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The Difference Between Theft, Burglary & Robbery – How We Can Help

The Difference Between Theft, Burglary & Robbery

What are the technical differences between theft, burglary, and robbery?

Often, people never think about the differences between theft, robbery, and burglary. Instead, they are lumped together as taking someone else’s property. However, if you face a charge of theft, burglary, or robbery, it is essential to understand the differences under Minnesota law.


In Minnesota, theft refers to intentionally taking someone else’s property without their permission, whether temporarily or permanently. People often think of theft in terms of shoplifting or picking pockets, but the term theft also includes theft of services. This includes using a service without compensation. For example, it may mean failing to pay someone for work they have performed or intentionally writing checks that will bounce. It can also mean deliberately re-routing a service paid for by someone else and using the service without compensation.
Minnesota’s law categorizes theft offenses primarily based on the financial worth of the property or services that have been stolen and, in some cases, the type of property taken. For example, if the value of the property or services stolen amounts to $500 or less, the sentence may be imprisonment of up to 90 days and a potential fine of up to $1,000. After that, as the value of the property or services increases, so do the charges and potential penalties.

Suppose the offense is the theft of property or services valued at more than $35,000 when certain aggravating circumstances exist, which include fraud, deceit, or a vulnerable adult victim, or theft of a firearm of any value. In that case, the penalty may consist of imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or reparation of up to $100,000, or both.


Robbery is “the unlawful taking of property from the person of another through the use of threat or force.” So, robbery is different from burglary because the victim suffered physical harm or the fear of being harmed. There are degrees of robbery, including:

  • Simple robbery. This is theft using force or the threat of force. Examples of force may include hitting or kicking or physically grabbing something from another person. Threats of force are often verbal, but certain physical gestures used to intimidate the property’s owner may constitute a threat of force, even if there are no physical injuries. Simple robbery carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and/or potential reparation of no more than $20,000.
  • Aggravated robbery in the first degree. Robbery in the first degree applies to anyone that commits a robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon. Alternatively, this charge is appropriate if the defendant used an object to suggest they had a dangerous weapon. This could include holding an object against a person’s back and pretending it was a firearm. Finally, aggravated robbery in the first degree can occur when the victim suffers bodily harm during the course of the crime. The sentence may include a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $35,000.
  • Aggravated robbery in the second degree. The key difference between this offense and first-degree robbery is that this charge is often used in cases where the accused robber suggests or implies that they have a dangerous weapon. Potential penalties are a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $30,000.


In Minnesota, burglary is the act of entering someone else’s home without permission with criminal intentions. Typically, the intended crime is theft, but it does not have to be. For example, entering someone’s home to injure them or damage their possessions may result in a burglary charge. Although there are four degrees of burglary, there are certain common elements. All degrees of burglary involves entering a building without consent. Also, the burglar either intends to commit a crime or does commit a crime after entry. Therefore, someone can be convicted for burglary whether or not they actually accomplished the intended crime. The degrees of burglary are:

  1. Burglary in the first degree. Imagine a scenario in which a person enters a building that is occupied; they are armed and attack one or more persons in the dwelling. The burglar may be charged with first-degree burglary. The maximum potential penalty is incarceration for 20 years and/or up-to $35,000 in fines.
  2. Burglary in the second degree. In this classification, the alleged burglar uses or threatens to use violence or force to enter a building that houses a financial or securities institution. The classification also applies to entering government buildings, pharmacies, churches, historic buildings, or schools with the intention of theft or property damage. Someone convicted of second-degree burglary may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, and/or a fine of no more than $20,000
  3. Burglary in the third degree. If the burglar enters the dwelling and either steals something or commits a gross misdemeanor, or a felony, the sentence may be up to five years in prison, and/or a fine of $10,000
  4. Burglary in the fourth degree. If the defendant entered a building without consent and committed a misdemeanor, or intended to do so, they may be charged with burglary in the fourth degree. That offense carries a penalty of no more than one year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $3,000.

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In many cases, an individual who is arrested for theft, robbery, or burglary may have the opportunity to post bail. To do so, or for more information, they should contact the professionals at A-Affordable Bail Bonds.

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Call A-Affordable today: 877-724-6520
219 S 4th St,
Brainerd, MN 56401