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What is the difference between theft and robbery?

Many individuals do not understand that subtle differences in charges can have a significant impact on sentencing and defense strategy. This is especially true when it comes to violent crimes. In general, crimes that involve some form of violence or threat of violence carry harsher sentences than those without any element of violence. One area where this becomes particularly clear is the difference between theft and robbery.

Theft, or larceny, is a broad term that generally applies when one party takes the property or right to property of another person without their consent. This might mean many things, from a person stealing a small amount of money or personal items to one person refusing to return the property of another person after borrowing it or holding it for a specific amount of time.

Robbery, on the other hand, is usually much more concrete, and carries heavier penalties. One of the key elements that separates robbery from theft is the use of violence or the threat of violence, moving the charges into a different category altogether. Not only does theft carry a lighter sentence, it carries much less stigma on a criminal record.

If you or someone you know faces charges of robbery, it is vitally important that you begin building your defense as quickly as possible. In an ideal scenario, your representation can help you beat the charges entirely, but it is also considerably better to simply get the charges reduced from robbery to theft to keep a violent crime off your record. With proper legal counsel, you can ensure that your rights and your future remain secure.

Source: Findlaw, "Robbery Overview," accessed June 02, 2017

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