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What's the difference between robbery and theft?

Violent crimes generally entail harsher sentencing and more lengthy jail time, but in some cases, the line between a violent crime and a non-violent crime is thinner than you might expect. Robbery is a crime that many individuals do not understand well, and this poor understanding could cost them years of their lives behind bars if they end up facing charges of robbery when they could only have faced theft.

Theft, generally speaking, is the taking of another person's property. This might happen while the other person is far away, or it could occur in one's presence if the person taking the property simply grabs it and runs, or finds another way to take the property without threatening the owner. While theft is a criminal charge, it is not considered a violent crime and does not generally receive sentencing as harsh as robbery.

In contrast, just about any theft that involves a threat of violence against the property owner is considered robbery. The addition of an element of violence, or even the threat of violence, steps up the potential charges significantly. One exception that sometimes exists is if one person attempts to steal from another person, but is caught in the act. If the individual caught commits some act of violence as he or she attempts to escape, it may be possible to argue that this is not robbery because the thieving party did not intend to cause harm, but acted essentially in self defense.

If you face robbery charges, you must choose your next actions carefully. Robbery is a serious crime, and could affect your life for years to come. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney to review your options and defend your rights and freedoms.

Source: Findlaw, "Robbery Overview," accessed Aug. 25, 2017

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