Theft and robbery seem like interchangeable terms. They both mean that something was stolen, right? Well, technically, yes. But that doesn’t mean a charge of theft and a charge of robbery are the same thing. In the eyes of the law, the two crimes are distinct. Both have their own legal definitions, penalties, and ramifications.
What Is Theft?
Theft is a blanket term used to cover many different crimes. There are many kinds of theft, such as auto theft, petty theft, and grand theft. Larceny is often used interchangeably with theft. For example, you may have heard of grand larceny, which is often the same charge as grand theft.
In order for a crime to be considered theft, there have to be a few key factors present.
First, the alleged criminal must steal a piece of property, such as money, a bike, or even a lawn ornament, without the legal owner’s permission.
Second, said property must have been taken from the legal owner’s possession. An attempted theft will be charged as just that and will most likely not be considered a full theft crime.
Finally, the alleged thief must fully intend to take the property for their own gain or use. If someone accidentally takes something, say a coat that looks identical to their own, and returns it once the mistake is realized, it would not be considered theft.
The victim, or property owner, does not have to be present in the case of a theft crime. In fact, it is common for them to not be there when the crime takes place.
What Is Robbery?
Robbery, similarly to theft, is defined as the act of taking something that does not belong to you without the permission of the owner of the object. It has all the same legal requirements as theft, such as a lack of permission, as well as an intent. However, robbery has an extra element of force. In order for a court to charge someone with the crime of robbery, that person must have threatened their victim with force.
This also means that robbery requires that the victim be present at the time of the crime. If there is no present victim, no threats can be made, and thus the crime would be theft, not robbery.
Why Are They Different?
There are two primary differences between a robbery and a theft. The first being the presence of a threat of force. A thief may break into a house when they know that no one is home, grab the TV and jewelry and run. A robber could do the same, but when someone is home. The robber must use a threat, often with a weapon, in order to steal from their victim.
The second difference is the location of the victim. A thief never has to meet their victim. They may grab a shirt from a department store and walk out without paying. For something to be considered a robbery, there must be some sort of threat, which means there must be someone to threaten. Without a present victim, the crime cannot be considered a robbery.
Which Is Worse in Colorado?
Theft can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony in Colorado, depending on which kind is committed. For example, petty theft, or theft of an object(s) worth less than $400, is a misdemeanor and is usually not punished too harshly. Aggravated auto theft, on the other hand, is a felony, and may result in several years in jail as well as hefty fines.
Because robbery involves a threat of force to a victim, it is always considered a felony and is punished harshly. Usually, within the eyes of the law, robbery is the worse crime between the two.
If you or a loved one are facing charges of theft or robbery, chances are you’re feeling incredibly stressed about what your future holds. What penalties could you be facing? How are you going to defend yourself? What happens if you lose the case? We at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. could help you answer these questions, and provide you with a skilled Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney. Call us at (719) 401-0585 and learn about your rights under the law.