Difference Between Burglary, Theft, Robbery: What does the Law Say


The news about a burglary, theft, or robbery is a common sight now. While most people may use these terms interchangeably, there exist vast differences between them. The differences are in the methods, penalties, and prison sentences. So it is crucial to know the differences between them.


According to the Penal Code of California, burglary means to enter someone’s property with an intent to commit a felony or theft. In many cases, the perpetrator does not need to commit the felony; even breaking into the house is enough to qualify as burglary. According to the penal code, there are two degrees of burglary – 

  • First Degree- If the culprit enters a residential building, it is called a first-degree burglary or residential burglary, a felony. The fines in such a burglary can reach up to $10,000 and up to 6 years in California state prison.
  • Second Degree- If the perpetrator enters any building other than residential, it is a second-degree burglary. Notably, it is a wobbler crime, so it is up to the prosecution to treat it as a felony or a misdemeanour. The conviction period may range from one year to three years.


If someone takes anyone’s property using force, the penal code of California treats it as a robbery under penal code 211 of the California Constitution. The force can be physical, coercion, or scaring the person. There must be a person-to-person contact while theft to charge someone for robbery. Similar to burglary, robbery can also occur in two ways – 

  • First degree- If someone robs a person in a vehicle, personal or hired, or in a residential area like a boat, trailer, etc., or soon after someone has used or using an ATM, it is a first-degree robbery, a felony. The perpetrator has to pay a fine of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of a maximum of 6 years in state prison or both.
  • Second Degree- Second-degree robbery covers what the first-degree does not. The convicted person has to serve a sentence of up to 6 years in state prison. Also, they have to pay a fine of a maximum of $10,000.


If in a robbery, the person-to-person contact is missing, it is called theft. It does not matter if the owner is in the vicinity of the object or not; if someone else takes it, it is called theft. It can bifurcate into two types –

  • Petty Theft- If someone steals cash or an object of up to $950, it is considered petty theft. The fine for petty theft can be a maximum of $1,000 or six months imprisonment in county jail or both. Although, if the stolen amount costs $50 or less, the prosecutor can treat it as a misdemeanour or an infraction – as they wish – with a fine of $250.
  • Grand Theft- It is a felony in California that may result in incarceration of up to a year in county jail. If the convicted has had convictions in the past, the sentence may increase.

Sometimes one might get wrongfully accused and sent to jail. If you ever find yourself or your loved one locked up, time is vital. You need to get out and fast. In such cases, getting bail is most beneficial. In Rancho Cucamonga, a bail bonds Rancho Cucamonga agent can post your bail. So, connect with a bail bondsman as soon as possible.


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