Theft, Burglary, and Robbery: Key Differences

Criminal charges can be brought against you for taking or possessing property that lawfully belongs to someone else. You might think these accusations should be pretty straightforward, but Wisconsin law actually draws distinctions among several different categories of stealing. It is important to understand the differences among these types since sentencing can vary depending on the actual charge. For example, you may be charged with theft but not robbery, or even burglary and not theft.

As the theft and burglary attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. understand, you should be as informed as possible about your criminal charge in order to properly safeguard your rights. Knowing how theft, burglary, and robbery differ is a great first step towards building your defense.

Distinguishing Among Theft, Burglary, and Robbery

According to Wisconsin law, these criminal charges have very specific definitions:

  • Theft occurs when someone “intentionally takes and carries away, uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of movable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property.”
  • Burglary occurs when someone “intentionally enters [a place] without the consent of the person in lawful possession and with intent to steal or commit a felony.”
  • Robbery occurs when someone “takes property from the person or presence of the owner by either…using force…or by threatening the imminent use of force.”

Theft, then, is the broadest category since it does not necessarily involve either unlawfully entering a place or breaking into a container or unlawfully using or threatening force. Burglary might occur even if the property is not removed from an area; breaking in or trespassing with the intent to steal is enough to result in a burglary charge. Robbery happens when a key feature—force—is added to stealing.

How to Handle Stealing Allegations

Whether you are confronted with a charge of theft, burglary, robbery, or some combination of these actions, you have a right to legal counsel. The knowledgeable lawyers at Hart Powell, S.C. can help you fully understand the charges brought against you and help you decide how to best proceed. Contact us at (414) 271-9595 with any questions or concerns about allegation involving theft, burglary, or robbery.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : June 6, 2017