Robbery vs Burglary

Theft crimes are often confusing because slight variations of the crime can change the name of the offense along with the penalties. The average person often does not know the difference between a robbery offense and a burglary offense. The main difference is the presence of violence or the physical presence of a victim. Burglary occurs when an individual enters a building with the intent of committing a felony crime. There is no specification of a person being present or coming in contact with the victim. To be charged with burglary, the requirements include:

  • Breaking into;
  • Entering;
  • A building;
  • Without having consent from the owner;
  • While having the intention of committing a felony or stealing

Robbery, on the other hand, involves violence or threatening harm in order to steal from a victim. This offense is a combination of theft and violence, or the threat of acting violently. To be charged with robbery instead of burglary, there must be the use of force to take property from a victim directly. An example of robbery would be pulling a gun on a bank teller. Whether or not you use the gun does not necessarily matter, threatening the use of a gun is enough to be charged with robbery. If the gun is used; however, the charges could be aggravated.


The penalties for these crimes vary, robbery is generally charged as a Class C felony in Tennessee. This crime is punishable by between three and 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This could be aggravated to a Class B or Class A felony with harsher penalties if the offense has a weapon involved or other aggravating factors. Burglary is generally charged as a Class D punishable by between two and 12 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Some burglary offenses could be charged as a Class E felony with lesser penalties, but some can also be aggravated to Class C and Class B felonies.



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