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What Is the Difference Between Burglary and Robbery in Tennessee?

 Posted on August 16,2019 in Criminal Defense

Union County theft charges defense lawyer

When someone thinks of theft, he or she might imagine someone taking an item off a shelf or an individual breaking into a home to take another person’s belongings. Both are forms of theft; however, this crime and the charges associated with it include more than just these two descriptions. All crimes involving theft are known as property crimes and the two that often get confused are burglary and robbery. While they may look synonymous on television, the two offenses are defined differently by Tennessee legislation.

What Is Burglary?

All criminal offenses have classifications that must be met in order to be charged with that particular offense and burglary is no exception. Acts that include the following criteria are classified as burglary in Tennessee:

  • Unlawful and Forcible Entry: If one does not have express permission to enter a building or residence, it is considered unlawful. Forcible entry does not have to be as dramatic as it sounds. The only forms of entry not considered “forcible” are walking through an open door or climbing through an open window. Even if an individual turns a door handle or moves a window screen to enter, he or she has “committed” forcible entry.

  • Actual or Constructive Entry: Actual entry means that a body part or tool has entered the structure or building. In other words, one’s full body does not have to enter a building to be considered as entry. The person can simply put a hand through the window to grab something and that is considered actual entry. Constructive entry is for those who have someone else do their “dirty work” for them. Just forcing or coercing another person to enter the structure is classified as constructive entry.

  • Intent to Commit a Crime: If someone goes into a situation intending to commit a crime, this must be proven. Even if nothing is taken from the home, if the individual enters the building with the intent to take something, he or she can still face burglary charges.

  • Any Felony Occurs: Burglary is not limited to taking another person’s belongings. If an individual participates in the actions listed above and commits any type of felony while doing so, he or she can be convicted of burglary.

What Is Robbery?

Robbery and burglary are similar, but robbery charges are often more serious and have harsher consequences. All of the following must be committed and proven to be charged with robbery:

  • Attempting to Take Property: The crime does not have to be successful in the eyes of the law for it to be considered a robbery. If an individual simply attempts to take someone else’s property, he or she has taken the first steps toward robbery.

  • Taking Something of Value: Financial value is not the only form of value relevant in robbery cases. Any sense of value to the item’s owner makes the item valuable. If the robber takes a family heirloom that holds no monetary value other than sentimental value, it is still considered a valuable item.

  • The Property is Taken From Someone’s Care: Not all items are kept under the supervision of their owner; however, those items can still be taken. Many people keep important documents in a safety deposit box, which is then “under the care of” the bank where the box is located. If something is taken from that box, it is still being taken from the owner even if it is not technically under his or her care at the time.

  • Property is Taken: Unlike burglary, property must actually be stolen in order to be considered a robbery. If a person unlawfully enters but does not steal anything, the charge becomes burglary not robbery.

  • The Existence of Fear or Injury: Robberies must include some form of threat or violence. No one has to suffer from a physical injury; however, if a person makes a threat that causes fear in the presence of another party, that individual is committing robbery.

Penalties for Theft Crimes

If someone is found guilty of burglary, he or she can face up to 12 years of imprisonment and high fines. Those found guilty of robbery may be required to spend up to 15 years in prison.

Call a Knox County Theft Defense Attorney

The most important step to take when facing criminal charges is to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. In order to be convicted of burglary or robbery, many acts must be proven. At the law offices of Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney, we have defense strategies for all forms of property crime and work to help you avoid any type of charge, regardless of the severity. If you are facing burglary or robbery charges, contact our Knoxville, TN criminal defense lawyers at 865-281-1000 for a free consultation.






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