Theft and Robbery: A Crucial Difference
In prosecuting someone for a crime, it’s not enough just to say someone did something wrong. Different offenses have different effects on society, and consequently receive different punishments. If you have been charged with theft or a similar crime, you need to know the differences between the different crimes.
The courts try to ensure that the punishment matches the crime, but determining exactly what the crime is can be complicated. You may be familiar with the tendency to divide crimes into degrees, such as first- and second-degree murder. Determining the right “degree” requires considering all the facts of the crime. Sometimes the differences in punishment are substantial.
Understanding Theft vs. Robbery
The crime of theft, as the law defines it, consists of taking someone’s property from them without their permission. Theft alone is a misdemeanor offense, but it can become a felony if the property is very valuable or if the theft took place in a school (among other places). If the same act of stealing involves a weapon or a threat of violence, however, the charges may upgrade to robbery.
Robbery is always a felony, but the seriousness of the felony can vary, too. If you hurt someone in the process, for example, your charges—and the resulting punishment—can get much worse. If you have been charged with robbery, you may be able to reduce the charges to theft if you can demonstrate that force was not used.