Key differences between burglary and robbery

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Television shows, movies and books often use the terms burglary and robbery interchangeably. However, if you are facing charges in Pennsylvania, you will quickly realize they are very different. At The Law Offices of Joseph Lesniak, LLC, we often represent clients charged with criminal charges that include theft and burglary.

According to, burglary is a property crime, whereas a robbery includes violence or the threat of violence against a victim. A crime qualifies as burglary when it contains all of the following elements:

  • Forcible entry – Destruction of doors or windows is not a requirement for burglary charges. Any activity you can use to enter a building including sliding a window or turning a door handle a break-in component.
  • Unlawful entry – The act of entering a private building without permission. It also encompasses entering public buildings outside of the regular operating hours.
  • Actual entry – Your entire body does not need to be inside a building. As soon as any part of you is inside, it is burglary.
  • Constructive entry – Instead of entering a building yourself, you have caused someone else to do so. This can include giving someone a boost to enter through a window.

Burglary can occur at any structure that can shelter property or people, such as a garage or storage unit. For a conviction, the prosecution must also prove an intent to commit a crime.

Robbery is a violent crime, carrying more severe consequences than burglary. The most common types of include home invasion, mugging, car-jacking and armed robbery. Forcefully removing property from a person regardless of value is robbery if the victim is scared or injured. The value may be sentimental, rather than monetary.

Law enforcement investigates burglaries and robberies differently. An experienced attorney can help build a strong defense and potentially minimize penalties. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.