Robbery shows up frequently in the news, under a variety of circumstances. One example is a recent robbery spree involving a fast food venue and a convenience store in Southern California, with a suspect still at large. Another involves the recent arrest of a former dentist suspected of robbing several banks.
However, although robbery crops up often in the news and in various forms of entertainment, not everyone understands what it is under California law.
In particular, they might confuse it with burglary. People sometimes use the two words interchangeably, when they aren't the same.
Differences between robbery and burglary
Burglary involves going into a building or breaking into a car with the intent to commit theft or perpetrate a felony (keep in mind that going into a building could involve just sticking an arm or a tool, such as a rope, into a window or through a door).
Robbery involves seizing another person's property through the use of force or fear (by threatening them), and the victim of the crime must be present when it happens. With robbery, the perpetrator must interact directly with the unwilling victim.
Robbery and burglary can both get perpetrated in one criminal incident. For instance, you can commit burglary by sneaking into someone's house while intending to perpetrate theft, and wind up encountering the homeowner; if you then use physical force against them or threaten to hurt them as you take their belongings, you can get charged with robbery.
Robbery is always a felony under California law. Your penalties will differ depending on the details of your crime and if you get charged with first-degree vs. second-degree robbery; first-degree robbery involves public transportation (including taxis), ATM machines, and homes.
In contrast, burglary might get charged as a felony (particularly first-degree burglary, which involves homes) - but it might sometimes get classified as a misdemeanor.
If you're facing charges for either robbery or burglary, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Although robbery and burglary are different, they are both serious crimes. Don't hesitate to reach out to us at our office, which is located near the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, California. We work with adults and juveniles in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Wildomar, Winchester, Perris, Hemet, Corona and Riverside areas.