What Is the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary?

The Nevada criminal offenses of robbery and burglary are very different but the two charges often cause confusion. A significant difference is that robbery is a crime against a person, while burglary is a crime against property. Under state law, each crime has distinct elements that must be proven by a prosecutor. A skillful criminal defense lawyer can undermine the charges by demonstrating that the evidence does not establish the necessary elements.

Robbery Under NRS 200.380

In Nevada, the offense of robbery requires taking personal property from another person against their will. The property may be on the other person or in the presence of the other person. To constitute robbery, the taking must be accompanied by force, violence, or fear of injury, either immediately or in the future. The threat can be against the person, a member of the person’s family, or a third person who is present.

A taking meets the force or fear requirement if force or fear is used to 1) obtain or retain possession of the property, 2) prevent or overcome resistance to the taking, or 3) to facilitate escape. The extent of force is immaterial, as long as it compels compliance to the taking of or escaping with the property. It also does not matter if the person from whom the property was taken is unaware of the taking, if that knowledge was prevented by use of force or fear.

Robbery is a category B felony that carries a minimum prison term of at least two years and a maximum of 15 (fifteen) years.

Burglary Under NRS 205.060

The primarily law for the offense of burglary is NRS 205.060. There also are additional statutory sections that may be relevant to situation involving a potential burglary charge, including a specific section on home invasion. Collectively, the burglary statutes are very complex.

Burglary is a much broader criminal offense than robbery. It can occur in a myriad of different situations. The basic provision states that a burglary requires unlawfully entering or remaining in a residence, business structure, motor vehicle, or other structure during the day or at night, with the intention of committing specific crimes while inside. Under NRS 205.070, any other crime committed during a burglary constitutes a separate chargeable offense.

A structure, residence, or vehicle does not need to be occupied when the entry occurs. The intrusion itself can be minimal. Use of force is not required. In addition, the required intent to commit a crime for may be inferred from specific circumstances. A presumption of inferred intent can be overcome with evidence demonstrating lack of criminal intent.

Burglary is a felony. The category of a burglary charge varies, depending on the nature of the structure or vehicle entered, prior convictions, and whether possession of a firearm was involved.

Comparison of Robbery and Burglary

The difference between robbery and burglary comes down to the basic requirements for each. Robbery requires taking property from a person through force or fear. Burglary requires unlawfully entering or remaining in any structure or vehicle with the intent to commit a crime — presence of another person, force, or fear, is not required for burglary. Robbery is considered a violent crime. Burglary is not.

Burglary and robbery can be charged for a single incident, if the conduct involves both types of acts. In fact, police often charge both crimes when a robbery occurs in the course of a burglary.

Home invasion, which involves forcible entry of an inhabited dwelling, is a crime different from burglary under NRS 205.067. Nevada also has other criminal offenses related to robbery and burglary, including theft, grand larceny, and petit larceny.

Defending Against Robbery or Burglary Charges

Developing a strong defense to a robbery, burglary, or any similar charge requires assistance from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Each type of offense has specific statutory elements. If the evidence does not support all the required elements for a criminal charge, there is no basis for conviction. For that reason, a criminal defense lawyer meticulously investigates the evidence relating to the situation that led to the charge.

Effective negotiation with a prosecutor requires more than analyzing the evidence in the case. It also requires knowledge of applicable criminal laws, rules, and procedures. Familiarity of local court and prosecutor practices and policies is also extremely important.

Situations involving charges of burglary or robbery often involve other criminal charges as well. In those cases, penalties can accrue separately for each charge and cumulatively can be quite significant. Regardless of what charges you face, relying on a skillful defense attorney is absolutely critical.

Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you face a robbery, burglary, or any other state or federal criminal charge in Las Vegas, attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. His investigative and trial background and extensive criminal defense experience enable him to provide an aggressive defense to any Nevada criminal charge, regardless of the offense.

The Gersten Law Firm assists clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. There is no charge for your initial consultation. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.