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How are larceny, robbery and burglary different?

Many people use larceny, burglary and robbery interchangeably when describing crimes of theft. However, in the world of criminal justice, there are significant differences between each of these terms. Each theft crime has its own set of elements that prosecutors must prove to get a conviction.

Additionally, a person convicted of burglary may face very different consequences than someone who committed petty theft. Experienced New York criminal defense attorneys generally know the specific defenses that can be raised for each of these crimes.

Theft or larceny is a general crime that refers to the unauthorized taking of property from someone with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of the property. Larceny can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the items stolen and other factors surrounding the crime.

Robbery is essentially larceny with force and is typically a felony. In other words, if one is facing robbery charges, the prosecutor must prove that the accused used force to intentionally steal someone else's property. Even if they did not use actual violence, using the threat of violence or some form of intimidation can be enough to establish that a robbery occurred.

Burglary is different from the other two crimes in that it does not necessarily involve theft. In order to be convicted for burglary, prosecutors will have to show unlawful entry with the intent to commit a crime. While many burglaries are committed with the intent to steal property, others involve murder, attempted murder and the sale of drugs. Burglaries are generally classified as felonies.

Source:, "Theft Overview," accessed on March 18, 2018

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