Difference Between Theft and Burglary

Criminal law includes a wide variety of restricted activities and actions. The crimes of theft and burglary are much similar but are treated very differently and are seen as distinct crimes. Every state has its own criminal statutes stating these crimes, but most of the times they are identical in all states. Theft is when a person takes the property of another person with the intention to take from the owner from its use or benefit. On the other hand, burglary involves entering a building with the intention to do a crime within it. If you just commit a crime of stealing money or a cell phone on a road, then it is theft but if you break into a house and do these things then it is called a burglary.


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    In most cases, theft is the stealing of a person’s property to keep him away from its use. Be aware of the fact that theft does not need you to enter a building or structure. For instance, a thief who takes a belonging of someone from a picnic table does not go into a structure to commit the crime. This is because a picnic table is not a building or dwelling.

    Moreover, know that theft is only considered a felony or misdemeanour. Felonies are very serious offenses and are punishable for up to a year or more in jail. Normally, states differentiate between misdemeanour and felony theft depending on the worth of the property or belonging stolen. For example, Florida law states that a theft of a property worth of $1000 or more can be charged as a felony and anything up to $1000 is usually charged as a misdemeanour.

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    Burglary can be charged if you break into a house with the intention to commit a crime or even vandalism. It is also known as a specific intent crime. This suggests that the requisite intent is made when you enter the dwelling, and if you did so with the intent of a crime, then you can be charged with burglary. For instance, if you go to someone’s home and steal a table or anything else regardless of its value, it will be charged with the crime of burglary. Make sure you are aware that burglary is normally considered a felony which is a serious crime. If you are charged with a felony you might have to serve at least a year in prison.

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