If you have been charged with burglary, robbery, or theft in Florida the charges are serious. Many people wonder what the differences are between these charges. Some seem to be more serious than others. It is helpful to understand the differences between these charges and seek legal help as soon as possible after you’ve been charged with a crime. The sooner your attorney gets involved, the better the chances will be of providing a thorough and successful defense. In general, theft charges are the least severe of the three. While theft is generally considered a misdemeanor, burglary and robbery are usually felonies.

Burglary Charges

There are different types of burglary charges and each carries its own penalties. Burglary of a structure or conveyance is when a person enters a structure or conveyance (such as a vehicle) with the intent to commit a felony. The felony is theft, however, simply entering the building may result in charges. The burglary of a dwelling occurs when someone enters a building without permission with the intent to commit a felony. The charges and penalties may vary depending on various factors such as:

  • The value of the stolen item or items (stealing items with a value over $300 is a grand theft)
  • Whether other crimes were committed at the same time.
  • The criminal background (previous convictions) of the person arrested.

If a battery occurs during the commission of a burglary, for example, the severity of the crime increases drastically and is punishable with up to life imprisonment. Burglary from an automobile could result in penalties of up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Robbery Charges

As with burglary, robbery charges have varying degrees of severity. A robbery occurs when someone steals something without permission. In many cases there are additional charges involved. For example, a simple purse-snatching incident could result in stronger charges if the person was touched during the robbery. In a strong-arm robbery the individual used some type of force in committing the robbery. If a weapon is used during the commission of a robbery, the charges will be increased as will the penalties. A simple robbery may be a 3rd degree felony with penalties of up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. A strong-arm robbery carries penalties of up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Theft Charges

Theft is most often considered a petty crime. Shoplifting is one of the most common types of thefts. Most theft involves removing items of property that do not belong to you with the intent to keep them. Theft is most often a misdemeanor; however, the price of the stolen items can push the charges into a low felony. It is important to protect your rights, even if you haven’t been charged with a felony. Even a simple shoplifting conviction will tarnish your record for years to come. The best way to handle any type of arrest, whether for robbery, burglary, or theft, is to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer in your area. Your attorney knows the best way to handle every type of situation and will work to present a defense that will bring the best results. Your lawyer will review every aspect of your arrest and may even be able to find problems with the way your arrest was handled. The sooner you speak to an attorney the better when it comes to criminal charges.