It is not uncommon for people to interchange the terms “burglary” and “robbery.” After all, these terms are commonly used to describe various theft-related offenses. While similar, robbery and burglary are distinct crimes with distinct elements that must be established.
Robbery is the act of taking another person’s property by force or threat. It is not uncommon for a weapon to be used in the commission of a robbery. Alternately, burglary is the act of entering a building to commit a crime. This crime is frequently associated with theft, but this is not always the case.
When arrested or even suspected of robbery or burglary, you have the right to retain legal representation. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the sooner you can defend yourself against these charges. Let the attorneys at Ryan Garry assist you in developing the strongest possible defense strategy for your case.
What is Robbery?
Before comparing robbery and burglary, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of each of these crimes. An accusation of robbery is always a serious offense. A conviction could result in years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a felony on your permanent record for the rest of your life. Given the potential stakes, it is imperative that you allow an experienced defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.
There are three different levels of robbery offenses under Minnesota law.
A conviction on any of these charges could have severe repercussions, but certain charges are more likely than others to result in a lengthy sentence. Under Minnesota law, there are three levels of robbery charges:
- Simple robbery
- Aggravated robbery in the first degree
- Aggravated robbery of the second degree
Under Minnesota law, the most basic robbery charge is referred to as simple robbery. This offense involves the use of force or the threat of force to obtain the property of another. There are various ways to define force, including punching or kicking a person. Pulling a valuable item out of another person’s hand is another example. Likewise, threats of force can vary. Oftentimes, threats are verbal, but they may also involve physical gestures.
When it is clear that the intent was to coerce the property’s owner into surrendering it, these actions are considered threats. A simple robbery can occur whether or not the victim was physically injured.
First-Degree Aggravated Robbery in Minnesota
The crime of aggravated robbery is based on the offense of simple robbery, but there are additional circumstances that may result in harsher punishments. In fact, first-degree aggravated robbery carries the harshest penalties of any robbery offense. A person is guilty of robbery in the first degree if they commit a robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon. Alternately, this charge applies if the defendant used an object to imply they possessed a lethal weapon. This may involve holding an object against a person’s back and pretending it’s a gun. Lastly, aggravated robbery of the first degree can be committed when the victim sustains bodily harm during the commission of the crime.
Over the years, numerous objects have been deemed dangerous weapons by the courts. It should not come as a surprise that the state has sought enormous discretion in determining whether an item present during a robbery constituted a dangerous weapon. Examples of common dangerous weapons include firearms, knives, and baseball bats. The courts have also deemed other objects, such as automobiles, to be lethal weapons. As well, proving first-degree aggravated robbery based on allegations of bodily harm is typically straightforward. The state need only demonstrate that the victim suffered “physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition” to establish bodily harm.
Second-Degree Aggravated Robbery in Minnesota
In terms of severity, second-degree aggravated robbery falls somewhere between the first-degree offense and simple robbery. This charge differs from robbery in the first degree in that it is used when a suspect implies they are armed with a dangerous weapon. In other words, this is a lesser offense than aggravated robbery in the first degree because an actual weapon is not required.
Instead, the implication of a lethal weapon requires only a few words or a gesture. This could involve pointing to a pocket to imply you have a gun or simply stating that you are armed with a knife. It is possible to obtain a conviction for aggravated robbery in the second degree in the absence of a weapon and without injuries as well.
What is Burglary?
In Minnesota, burglary differs from robbery in that it involves entering a building without permission for the purpose of committing a crime. Although burglary is commonly viewed as a theft offense, you can be convicted of burglary for entering another person’s property for a variety of reasons. In fact, you could be charged with burglary if you enter another person’s property legally and then commit a crime after overstaying your welcome. A typical example would be entering a store and remaining there until it closes.
Under state law, there are four distinct levels of burglary charges.
These are referred to as degrees. Each degree of burglary carries a distinct sentencing range, and a number of variables will determine which burglary offense applies to your case. The type of burglary charge you face may vary based on the type of property burglarized, whether or not you were armed, the value of any items stolen, and whether or not anyone was present in the building at the time of the offense.
The four levels of burglary consist of:
First Degree Burglary in Minnesota
First-degree burglary is the most serious type of burglary charge under state law. This offense is committed when a person unlawfully enters or remains in an occupied building in order to commit a crime while the building is occupied. Alternately, first-degree burglary is committed when a weapon is used to commit an assault.
Second Degree Burglary in Minnesota
A person is guilty of second-degree burglary if they forcefully enter a building without permission. ypically, this involves entering the structure through a door or window.
Third Degree Burglary in Minnesota
When an individual unlawfully enters a structure to commit a felony or a gross misdemeanor, they are guilty of third-degree burglary. This offense is always considered a felony.
Fourth-Grade Burglary in Minnesota
When a person enters a building without the owner’s permission to commit a non-theft-related misdemeanor, they have committed fourth-degree burglary, the least serious form of burglary.
What Differences Exist Between These Crimes in Minnesota?
There are significant distinctions between larceny and burglary. While both are serious felonies that can result in lengthy prison sentences, the evidence required to secure a conviction in each case differs. Robbery requires the presence of another individual, whereas a burglary charge does not. There are also significant similarities between these charges. A conviction on either charge is a felony that could land you in prison for the rest of your life. Even after you have served your sentence, a conviction for either charge could have additional repercussions.
The most significant similarity between robbery and burglary is that both are defendable charges. You have the right to fight back if you have been arrested for either offense. Every day, criminal charges are reduced or dropped, and an aggressive defense strategy for either of these charges could help you achieve a positive outcome in your case.
Consult a Lawyer Regarding Your Criminal Charges in Minnesota
If you have been accused of robbery or burglary, now is the time to seek legal representation. If convicted of either offense, you may be forced to endure the repercussions indefinitely. The attorneys at Ryan Garry are aware of the stakes in your case and are prepared to assist you in fighting back. Call immediately for a free consultation.