People may use the terms theft, robbery and burglary interchangeably without understanding that each expression carries distinct connotations. Even more important is the fact that such charges have different implications before a court of law.
The 2023 Florida Statutes dedicates an entire section (Chapter 812) to theft, robbery and related crimes. Understanding the difference between these alleged offenses can help a person prepare an adequate defense before appearing before a criminal court.
Theft refers to knowingly taking someone’s property with the intent to deprive them of it, either permanently or temporarily. The act of theft can embrace various other crimes, but the term alone simply implies the taking of an item without the elements of force, unlawful entry or a breach of trust.
Picture a scenario where someone discreetly pockets an item from a store without the owner’s knowledge. Such shoplifting is a classic example of theft.
Florida classifies petit theft as the unlawful taking of property with a value of less than $750. Anything over that amount rises to charges of grand theft with harsher penalties.
Burglary, on the other hand, denotes unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime inside, typically theft. Burglary does not necessarily involve a direct confrontation with the property owner. Instead, it focuses on the invasion of private spaces, such as homes or businesses, with the aim of committing a crime once inside.
Robbery is a crime that involves the use of force or threat to take someone’s property. Unlike other property crimes, robbery requires direct confrontation. Picture a scenario where someone forcibly takes someone’s belongings by threatening harm with a weapon or actually using physical force.
Embezzlement differs from both robbery and burglary as it revolves around financial matters. This white-collar crime occurs when a person has the responsibility to manage someone else’s money and misappropriates those funds for personal gain.
Each of these property violations has different identifying characteristics and distinct penalties. A defendant who understands the full impact of the charges against them has a better chance of fighting such accusations.