Criminal charges often sound similar, but there are key differences, such as the legal differences between theft and burglary. Depending on what was involved in the crime committed, penalties will vary in severity. Understanding the differences and working with a strong criminal defense attorney is important for anyone facing theft, burglary, robbery, or larceny charges in Florida.
Difference Between Theft and Burglary
The difference between theft and burglary in Florida involves property and permission. Theft is considered a less severe crime with reduced penalties, and burglary is considered a more severe crime with increased penalties under the law.
What Is Theft?
The theft Florida Statute says,
“A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.
Basically, it is the taking of someone’s property. Shoplifting is a good example of theft. With theft, you are typically permitted on the premises, such as a clothing store or electronics store, during regular business hours.
Theft is broken down into two types:
- petit theft
- grand theft
Petit theft is the theft of an item or items valued at between $100-$300 and is charged as a misdemeanor. If the theft includes the type of property that would be listed as grand theft, such as a handgun, it would be regarded as a felony under Florida law.
Grand theft is the theft of an item or items valued at $300 or more. It is a felony charged in degrees – first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree, depending on the severity of the crime. Severity is often determined by value but can be utilized if there is a state of emergency.
What Is Burglary?
The burglary Florida Statute has the definition:
- “Entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter; or
- Notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry, remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance:
- Surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense therein;
- After permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein; or
- To commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony,”
When comparing burglary vs. theft, there is a clear distinction. Basically, burglary is entering a place without permission (trespassing) and taking someone’s property. Burglary is always a felony, but the degree will depend on the severity of the crime. Burglaries that include the presence of weapons, victims, or witnesses will have an increase in the degree of the felony charges. The type of dwelling, structure, conveyance, or vehicle, and the presence of a state of emergency, will also affect the severity of the charges.
Theft vs. Larceny
The difference between larceny and theft will depend on your state of residence. In the State of Florida, there is no specific statute on the books that outlines larceny as a different charge than theft. However, certain statutes will use the term larceny instead of theft.
What Is Larceny?
Larceny is the taking of someone’s property without their permission. Just like with theft charges, an individual can get charged with petit larceny or grand larceny.
Theft vs. Burglary vs. Robbery
When comparing burglary vs. robbery vs. theft, an additional element is involved on top of stealing someone’s property and entering their property without permission. With theft and burglary, an item or items are stolen, but there is no interaction with another person, including violence or threats of violence. A charge of robbery goes to that next level.
What is Robbery?
The Robbery Florida Statute says,
“Robbery” means the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.”
A robbery could be someone beating another person up and taking their wallet or someone pulling a gun on a convenience store clerk, or other similar offenses. These would be classified as either first-degree or second degree-felonies.
The penalties for theft, burglary, and robbery will depend on the circumstances of the offense, including the value of the stolen items, the element of permission, and the presence of threats/violence.
Penalties for Theft
If convicted, the penalties for petit theft range from up to 60 days – up to 1-year imprisonment and a $500-$1,000 fine, depending on the degree of the offense. Grand theft penalties range from 5 years – no more than 30 years imprisonment and a $5,000 – $10,000 fine.
Penalties for Burglary
If convicted, the penalties for burglary range from up to 5 years – up to 30 years imprisonment and a $5,000 – $10,000 fine, depending on the degree of the offense.
Penalties for Robbery
If convicted, the penalties for robbery range from up to 15 years – up to life imprisonment (armed robbery) and a $10,000 fine.
What to Do If Charged With A Theft, Robbery, or Burglary in Florida
According to Florida law, the difference between theft and burglary and robbery is clear. With each of these types of offenses, it is vital to have a criminal defense attorney act on your behalf in the criminal justice system.
Dean Tsourakis understands the many legal processes and procedures in the Criminal Justice System and will fight for your rights to secure the best outcome in your criminal case.
Contact us today at 727-785-2700 to schedule a free consultation.on Feb 8, 2022