Thursday, August 20, 2009

Burglary and Robbery - What's the Difference?

A friend of mine and I were talking about home invasion last night. No, we weren't planning one, we were discussing a burglary that occurred in her neighborhood recently. She said nobody had been home when the house was broken into, and I said that it was therefore not a robbery. We were talking specifically about illegal entrance into somebody's home. She disagreed, saying that if somebody is home when burglars break in it's "home invasion." Okay, I said to her, suppose someone is miles away from home but somebody breaks into their house. Perhaps nobody is home, but their home is still being invaded. Every residential burglary and every residential robbery is a home invasion if the burglar/robber entered without the permission of the owner or the lessee (renter) of the invaded home, or from any other person lawfully in possession or control of the dwelling. But what about "robbery" and "burglary," both of which are types of home invasion? I will cite Illinois law, since that's where I live, but most part of the U.S. have similar laws. (Don't take this as legal advice; I am not an attorney and have never even played one on TV. Do your own research specific to the jurisdiction in which you live.) In Illinois, "robbery" is defined as follows (emphasis added): Robbery. (a) A person commits robbery when he or she takes property, except a motor vehicle covered by Section 18-3 or 18-4, from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force. (b) Sentence. Robbery is a Class 2 felony. However, if the victim is 60 years of age or over or is a physically handicapped person, or if the robbery is committed in a school or place of worship, robbery is a Class 1 felony. (Source: P.A. 91-360, eff. 7-29-99.) Last modified: April 4, 2006 Source: Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - 720 ILCS 5, Section 18-1 Notice, in the definition of robbery, the key phrase "by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force." Suppose a burglar enters a residence without permission and finds the place unoccupied. Nobody home, nobody to threaten with the use of force, or on whom to use force. Notice, in the following definition of burglary, that there is no reference to the use of force or of threatening the use of force: In Illinois, "burglary" is defined as follows: Burglary. (a) A person commits burglary when without authority he knowingly enters or without authority remains within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle as defined in the Illinois Vehicle Code, railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit therein a felony or theft. This offense shall not include the offenses set out in Section 4-102 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. (b) Sentence. Burglary is a Class 2 felony. A burglary committed in a school or place of worship is a Class 1 felony. (Source: P.A. 91-360, eff. 7-29-99; 91-928, eff. 6-1-01.) Last modified: April 4, 2006 Source: Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - 720 ILCS 5, Section 19-1 Also see: Residential Burglary, Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - 720 ILCS 5, Section 19-3 So, if Mr. Bad Guy illegally enters a dwelling "with intent to commit therein a felony or theft," it is burglary. However, if Mr. Bad Guy enters the same dwelling and someone is there, such as the homeowner, lessee or even a guest of the same, that burglary suddenly becomes a robbery. One could argue that Mr. Bad Guy's presence alone would have the effect of "threatening the imminent use of force" even if it's only implied or reasonably inferred. Of course, a criminal attorney might argue otherwise. To repeat, I am not an attorney. If YOU are an attorney and you'd like to disagree with me or add something to this, please leave a comment. For more info, see the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 at law.onecle.com. Not in Illinois? You'll find your state listed there too, in the left sidebar. Conservative Hats, T-Shirts and More Leave a Comment... Chicago News Bench RSS Feed We're on Twitter...