Although the crimes of burglary and robbery are often lumped together, these are, in fact, two separate offenses. While both involve the unlawful taking of someone else's property, there are very distinct elements that separate these offenses. Generally defined, robbery involves the act of taking another person's property through the use of force or the threat of force. Burglary, on the other hand, is defined as the act of unlawfully entering a structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime therein—it does not need to be proven that any property was actually stolen.
How Robbery is Defined Under Penal Code § 29.02
In order to find someone guilty of robbery, several factors must be established. According to Texas Penal Code § 29.02, a person commits robbery if, in the course of committing theft and with intent to gain control over someone else's property, they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another or place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death. So what does this mean?
You cannot be convicted of robbery unless:
- You deprive someone else of their property
- The property is within their immediate control
- You injure the victim or threaten to use force
Although robbery is considered to be a violent crime in the state of Texas, it does not need to be established that the victim has suffered an actual physical injury in order to convict you of this offense. Rather, it must only be shown that you had placed them in fear of imminent bodily injury or death—which could include, for example, wielding or displaying a dangerous weapon during the commission of the theft.
How Burglary is Defined Under Penal Code § 30.02
In order to find someone guilty of burglary, several elements must also be established. According to Texas Penal Code § 30.02, a person commits burglary if they, without the consent of the owner, unlawfully enter a building or structure with intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault or remain concealed in a building or habitation with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault. So what does this mean?
You cannot be convicted of burglary unless:
- You unlawfully enter someone else's property
- You enter the property with intent to commit a crime
Unlike robbery, it does not need to be established that you actually stole another person's property, nor does it need to be proven that you used force to enter the structure or even that your entire body entered the building. If you lifted up a window and reached your arm through to steal a purse, for example, this would qualify as burglary. Under the law, "enter" simply means to intrude with any part of the body.
Are the penalties for robbery & burglary the same?
Although the penalties for robbery and burglary are similar, they vary depending on the type of offense that you have been accused of committing. For example, robbery is generally classified as a second degree felony—which can carry up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine—but it is possible for aggravating factors to elevate this charge to a first degree felony. If you are convicted of aggravated robbery, the penalties would be much more severe, including up to 99 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Burglary can also be charged as a second degree felony if the defendant entered a habitation. However, if the crime was committed in a building other than a habitation, the person will likely be charged with a state jail felony. This can carry up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine. If the burglary was committed in a habitation with intent to commit a felony other than theft, the charge could be elevated to a first degree felony—which is punishable by up to 99 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Contact My Office Today for a Free Consultation
Have you been charged with either robbery or burglary in Fort Worth, TX? If so, it is imperative that you act quickly to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. You could be facing several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, so you have no time to waste in contacting my firm. The Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi has been defending clients against a wide range of theft charges for more than a decade, so I know what it takes to win. Call now to schedule your free consultation!