Burglary vs. Robbery vs. Theft: What You Need to Know About Your Criminal Charges

by | Nov 12, 2016 | Robbery Defense

This post defines the differences between burglary vs. robbery vs. theft and what you need to know about each.

Burglary vs. Robbery vs. Theft – They all result in criminal charges

Theft is a crime. Robbery is a crime. Burglary is a crime. If you’re caught stealing, you will face criminal charges for one of these offenses, each of which comes with severe penalties upon conviction.

All three of the crimes result in criminal charges which means you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Colorado Springs if you are facing charges.

Stealing is the underlying basis for several separate and distinct crimes under Colorado law. Yet the differences between theft, robbery, and burglary all depends on the force used to steal the items and the value of the item at hand. Here are the critical differences between theft, robbery, and burglary and what charges follow each category.


colorado theft defense lawyer shopliftingBurglary vs. Robbery vs. Theft

Theft is the most common criminal charge for stealing in Colorado. You will be charged with theft if you knowingly obtained, retained, or exercised control over anything of value of another person without authorization or by threat or deception; and you:

  • Intended to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value;
  • Knowingly used, concealed, or abandoned the item of value in such manner as to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
  • Used, concealed, or abandoned the thing of value intending to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
  • Demanded money or any other consideration as a condition of restoring the item of value to the other person; or
  • Knowingly retained the thing of value more than 72 hours after the agreed-upon time of return in any lease or hire agreement.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-4-401(a).

There are many different types of theft charges in Colorado, and the value of the stolen property will determine whether you will be facing misdemeanor or felony charges and how severe the penalties will be.


Burglary vs. Robbery vs. Theft

You can be charged with robbery if you use force, threats, or intimidation when you steal someone else’s property in Colorado Springs. There are two kinds of robbery charges in Colorado: simple robbery and aggravated robbery. The distinction between the two is that the latter involves the use or threat of use of a deadly weapon. In fact, you can be charged with aggravated robbery just for making someone think you have a deadly weapon even if you don’t actually have one (picture someone holding their hand in their jacket pocket in the shape of a gun). Specifically, you will be charged with and convicted for aggravated robbery in Colorado if you take someone else’s property and you are:

  • Armed with a deadly weapon with intent, if resisted, to kill, maim, or wound the person robbed or any other person; or
  • Knowingly wounding or striking the person robbed or any other person with a deadly weapon or by the use of force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon knowingly putting the person robbed or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or
  • In possession of any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead any person who is present to reasonably believe it to be a deadly weapon or represents verbally or otherwise that he is then and there so armed.

Simple robbery is a class 4 felony which can result in a sentence of between two to six years behind bars. The penalties for aggravated robbery are significantly harsher. Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony, but it is also considered an “extraordinary risk crime” subject to an enhanced sentencing under Colorado law. A conviction for aggravated robbery could lead to a prison sentence of up to 16 years in prison.


Burglary vs. Robbery vs. Theft

Understandably, many people believe that burglary is a theft that involves breaking and entering into someone else’s property, home, or business. Indeed, that would constitute burglary under Colorado law. But you can also be charged with burglary for unauthorized entry onto someone’s property with the intent to commit any crime, even if it did not involve theft (except trespassing).

There are three separate Colorado burglary charges you could face:

  • Third-degree burglary. You commit the crime of third-degree burglary, a class 5 felony, if you enter or break into a vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, a product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or other apparatus with the intent to commit a crime.
  • Second-degree burglary. A class 4 felony, second-degree burglary consists of knowingly breaking into or remaining unlawfully in a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime.
  • First-degree burglary. The most severe burglary charge under Colorado law, the first-degree burglary is a class 3 felony. It is the same as second-degree burglary but also involves assaulting or menacing any person inside the building or occupied structure while entering or in flight from the building or involves the use of a deadly weapon.

Burglaries involving dwellings (as opposed to businesses) can result in more severe sentences, as can burglaries involving the theft of controlled substances.
Regardless of what kind of criminal charges you may be facing for taking or attempting to take someone else’s property in Colorado Springs, you are facing a lifetime of potential consequences, including years behind bars. Even if you avoid a harsh and lengthy prison sentence, a conviction will go on your record, and crimes such as theft, robbery, and burglary which call into question your trustworthiness and honesty can have a devastating impact on your job opportunities and your future.

Free Consultation with a Criminal Defense Attorney

Now you know the difference between burglary vs. robbery vs. theft. If you are accused of or charged with robbery or aggravated robbery, you need to find an experienced defense attorney who can help you develop a vigorous defense. James Newby has the experience to evaluate the case, and work put you in the best position possible. He will look for any mitigating circumstances that may help reduce the charges or dismiss them altogether. He can also help you understand the ramifications to your case if you have a previous record.

Call James Newby Law today to schedule your free consultation. Appointments are available 24/7 if needed.

James Newby

James Newby

James Newby is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs and the managing attorney of the criminal justice law firm James Newby Law. James got into law because of a deep-rooted passion for helping good people that may have made a poor choice that could have lasting consequences.