Before we dive headfirst into the real meat of this article, let’s first begin with a bit of background regarding the crimes of burglary and robbery. Otherwise, some of you who use social media sites and/or watching TV news and crime dramas as your main sources of research, may not know that burglary and robbery are not the same. Not even close.
I know, we’ve discussed this topic in the past, in great detail, but sometimes we forget.
Just today, if fact, a major news source published an article titled “British Olympian says medals were stolen from her home in robbery.”
I read the article thinking I’d see where the unfortunate female athlete was held up at gunpoint in her own home while the armed and dangerous bad guys forcibly snatched her precious awards and other items. This would’ve been a robbery. However, it was not a robbery.
The first paragraph tells readers that the distance runner received the news that her home had been ransacked while she was away. The family member who discovered the mess had gone to the house to check on the Olympian’s dog. This act was a burglary.
See the difference between the two crimes? This is yet another example of how the media so often gets it wrong?
So let’s again clear the air about the differences between the two crimes.
Burglary as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary: “The breaking and entering the house of another in the night-time, with intent to commit a felony therein, whether the felony be actually committed or not.”
In Virginia, where I served as law enforcement officer/investigator, the law governing burglary there in the Commonwealth, states:
§ 18.2-89. Burglary; how punished.
VA Code § 18.2-91
If any person commits any of the acts mentioned in § 18.2-90 with intent to commit larceny, or any felony other than murder, rape, robbery or arson in violation of §§ 18.2-77, 18.2-79 or § 18.2-80, or if any person commits any of the acts mentioned in § 18.2-89 or § 18.2-90 with intent to commit assault and battery, he shall be guilty of statutory burglary, punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one or more than twenty years or, in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, be confined in jail for a period not exceeding twelve months or fined not more than $2,500, either or both. However, if the person was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of such entry, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 felony.
§ 18.2-92. Breaking and entering dwelling house with intent to commit other misdemeanor.
Clear as mud, right?
Notice that I highlighted a brief portion of a sentence in red, and three specific words in blue—“with intent to commit larceny or any felony other than murder, rape, robbery or arson …” I did so to emphasize that robbery is not a portion of, or related to the basic crime of burglary. It is a separate offense.
Burglary and Robbery are not the same!
Okay, still confused when I say that robbery and burglary are not the same crime? You ask, how could this be the case when sooooooooo many TV news reports and fictional television shows time and time again tell us that “Ms. or Mr. Crime Victim’s” house was robbed?
Sit back and clear your mind for a second.
We learned just a few lines back that burglary involves the breaking and entering the house of another, and only a burglar, or burglars, are involved. No forcible taking an item or items from a victim.
Now, on to robbery.
Black’s Law definition of robbery.
“Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property In the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear. Pen. Code Cal.”
Traveling back to Virginia, we see that robbery there is: