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Law Office of Paul B. Tyler
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Burglary vs. Robbery in California

Burglar breaking into a house via a window with a crowbar

We hear the terms “burglary” and “robbery” tossed around a lot. In movies and television, they’re sometimes used interchangeably. Burglary and robbery, however, are specific, distinct criminal acts. If you’ve been accused of or arrested for a crime, it’s important to understand the exact charges, the parameters, and the potential punishments. Continue reading to learn about the differences between burglary and robbery. If you’ve been charged with or arrested for a theft crime in Southern California, call a zealous Oxnard burglary and robbery defense attorney for advice and representation.

Burglary Under California Law

Whether a criminal act is considered burglary depends heavily on where the act was committed. Historically, burglary meant entering someone else’s home and committing a criminal act–usually theft. Nowadays, burglaries can be committed in all manner of buildings, but the crime must still involve entering someone else’s property.

Under modern California law, a defendant is guilty of burglary when they enter someone else’s property with the intent to commit a crime. The crime can be theft, but other crimes qualify as well. Entering someone else’s home with the intent to assault the resident, for example, would constitute burglary (as well as assault or attempted assault, depending on what else occurs). The defendant is guilty of the crime at the time they entered the property with the requisite intent, even if they do not succeed in the underlying crime.

California law divides burglary into first- and second-degree burglary. First-degree burglary is burglary of a residence; entering a house, hotel, apartment, tent, vessel, or any other structure in which people reside with the intent to commit either a theft crime or any felony. First-degree burglary is a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison.

Burglary in the second degree involves entering any other type of building or vehicle with the intent to commit theft or any felony. Second-degree burglary is a “wobbler,” chargeable as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and is punishable by up to a year imprisonment.

Robbery Under California Law

Whereas burglary is all about where the crime occurred, robbery is about the defendant’s proximity to the alleged victim. Robbery involves direct contact with the victim using some kind of force. Force may mean physical force, and may involve the use of a weapon, but it can also involve threats or intimidation. Pointing a gun at a person and demanding their wallet would be considered robbery, as would assaulting a person and taking their property.

A person is guilty of robbery when they took property that was not their own directly from another person by means of force or fear. In California, a defendant can be charged with robbery in the first degree or robbery in the second degree.

Whether a defendant can be charged with first-degree robbery depends on the nature of the alleged victim. First-degree robbery includes robbery of a driver or passenger of a bus, taxi, or other transit vehicle, a person in an inhabited structure, or a person who just used an ATM committed in the vicinity of that ATM. All other forms of robbery are considered second-degree robbery.

First-degree robbery is a felony, punishable by up to six or nine years in prison, depending on certain aggravating factors. Second-degree robbery is also a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Call for Help After a Burglary or Robbery Arrest in Oxnard or Ventura County

If you are facing criminal charges in southern California, get stellar and dedicated legal help by contacting the Ventura offices of Paul Tyler for a free consultation at 805-889-9000.

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