The word burglary and robbery are most of the time used interchangeably yet they mean totally different things. In New York, for example, the two terms are distinct when it comes to law and prosecuting criminal cases. If you’ve been involved in a criminal case, the best thing to do would be to look for an experienced Long Island criminal lawyer to help with the defense. In order to understand the difference between the two terms, we will need to look at them individually.

What is Burglary?

Penal Law Article 140 clear defines what burglary entails. There are three different degrees when it comes to burglary and they include:

Third Degree (D non-violent felony)

Second Degree(C violent felony)

First Degree (B violent felony)

For a burglary to be committed, there must be an entry into a building with the intent of committing a crime. The degree of the offense could be determined if it is an entry into a home or whether the defendant was injured.

It should be noted that burglary can still occur even when there are no physical signs of breaking and entering. Someone could be willfully invited to a home and remain unlawfully with the intent of committing a crime.

Someone doesn’t have necessarily to steal for burglary to occur. Many people are of the opinion that crime will only occur if the perpetrator enters a building illegally and steal property. A perpetrator can still be charged with burglary if he intends to commit a crime. It doesn’t matter if it is assault, sex crime or theft.

Burglary could still be charged even if the theft doesn’t take place. The only thing that matters is the perpetrator had the intent of committing a crime. A perpetrator might enter a home unlawfully and is then scared to commit the crime. The person will still be charged for burglary.

What is Robbery?

Robbery is stipulated under Penal Law Article 160. Just like burglary, there are three different degrees of robbery:

        Third Degree (D non-violent felony)

        Second Degree(C violent felony)

        First Degree (B violent felony)

Robbery can be described as a physical confrontation between the victim and the perpetrator. Instilling fear and intimidation is involved in order to make the victim vulnerable and helpless. Force could also be applied during the confrontation between the perpetrator and the victim. Third-degree robbery usually happens when the property is forcefully stolen from the victim. For second degree robbery, there is usually someone else aiding the perpetrator. It could also occur when a weapon is displayed, when the property is a vehicle, or if the victim sustains injuries. First-degree robbery is a serious crime and will involve grievous body injuries and the use of a dangerous instrument or weapon.

The Difference Between Robbery and Burglary

One of the main differences between the two crimes is the violence that is involved. There must be a use of force or intimidation for someone to be convicted of a robbery offense. A burglary conviction will not require force against a person or entering a building.

For a person to be convicted of robbery, he or she must use violence or threaten violence when taking something of value from another person. An example is when a man who is armed with a knife demands that a lady gives him the bag before he runs away. Such a person will be convicted of robbery because he has threatened violence on the victim.

Potential Penalties

As with what defines robbery and burglary, the penalty will differ from one state to another. A robbery conviction is heavier than burglary and could result in many years in jail and heavy fines. It can be more serious if the crime involved a weapon. In most states, robbery is punishable with up to 10 years in jail with a fine of $20000. An armed robbery is a more serious offense and could lead to up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $50000.

Penalty for Burglary

Just like robbery, burglary is categorized as a felony. Most states will break down burglary into different levels of seriousness. Some of the factors will include:

        If the building was occupied at the time of the offense

        The type of building in question

        If the burglar had a weapon

        The type of crime the burglar was intending to commit in the building

Fear, Force, and Theft

As we’ve already highlighted, burglary and robbery have distinct elements but could be further looked based on:


Even though burglary involves theft, one doesn’t have to steal something for them to be convicted of the offense. Robbery, on the other hand, will in most cases involve the element of theft. The defendant will try to forcefully take something of value from the victim.

For most burglary laws, the intent usually has to be some sort of theft or a felony. There are some states that are very categorical and say that a person that enters into any building with the intention of committing a crime is already guilty of burglary.

Force and Fear

Robbery and burglary also differ when it comes to the use of force and fear. A robbery conviction will in most cases involve the use of some force or fear which is usually not the case of burglary.

Both burglary and robberies are felonies and the sentence could be enhanced if the defendant had prior convictions. The same also applies to future felonies.

If you’re facing a burglary or robbery charge, the best thing to do will be to get in charge with a criminal attorney. There is always something that an experienced attorney can do to ensure that you’re getting a fair hearing. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. You could be a victim of circumstances and you don’t deserve to go to jail just because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Reach out to us today for your criminal case.