In: Criminal Defense

Learn the Difference Between Theft, Burglary, and Robbery

Many people believe that terms like “theft,” “burglary,” and “robbery” are interchangeable. However, when it comes to criminal laws in Texas, these are three distinct offenses, each with its own elements the prosecutor must prove to obtain a conviction. While all three offenses can involve taking property or money that is not yours, the charges apply in very different situations.

Theft Crimes

Theft – often called larceny – is committed when someone takes something of value that is not theirs with the intent to deprive the owner. Theft can take place in many scenarios, and it can involve a physical taking, such as shoplifting, or white-collar crimes, such as identity theft or embezzlement. Theft crimes are charged based on the value of the items that were allegedly taken, and charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor for “petty theft” all the way to first-degree felony charges for grand theft.


Contrary to common belief, burglary does not solely refer to breaking into a house to steal items. Instead, burglary refers to unlawfully entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony offense, theft, or assault. The structure can be a home, but it can also be any type of public or private building. While theft commonly occurs as part of a burglary, other felony offenses can also qualify as burglary.

Burglary of a structure that is not a habitation is a state jail felony, but the burglary of a habitation is either a second- or first-degree felony. You can also face additional charges for any crimes committed during the burglary.


Robbery is a theft crime, though unlike other theft crimes, robbery is also a violent crime. Robbery involves physically taking something directly from another person using force or the threat of force. Robbery is a second-degree felony in Texas, which can mean two to 20 years in prison. The prosecutor can also allege aggravating factors, such as using a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury to the victim. Aggravated robbery is a first-degree felony, which can mean five to 99 years in prison.

All three offenses should be taken seriously, and theft-related convictions can have lasting effects on your life. For example, you might not be able to work in financial or trust-related positions with a theft conviction on your permanent record. It is important to present an aggressive defense against any charges that you face, even if they seem like relatively minor petty theft charges.

Contact a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer to Discuss Your Defense Options

Theft, burglary, and robbery are all serious criminal charges, and a conviction can affect your freedom, finances, and future. When you are seeking the right aggressive criminal defense attorney in the Denton area, look no further than Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law. We have the experience necessary to take on any type of criminal case, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony charge. Call 940-222-2488 or contact us online to learn about our defense services today.