It’s common for people to misuse terms like stealing, burglary, and robbery. Although each charge often involves the unauthorized appropriation of another person’s property, they are distinct offenses, with different definitions and penalties in Missouri.
For example, you might hear someone say, “My house was robbed!”
In legal terms, this usually translates to “My house was burglarized!”
These two statements may sound synonymous, but in the eyes of a judge, it could mean the difference between a few years in jail… or a lifetime.
So, what’s the difference between stealing, burglary, and robbery?
Things are stolen.
Places are burglarized.
People are robbed.
Stealing is the unauthorized appropriation of the property of another for the purpose of depriving the owner thereof. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you… with no intention of returning it.
Money, credit cards, firearms, vehicles, controlled substances – Regardless of the type of property, you can be charged for stealing.
Stealing crimes do not necessarily involve physically taking property from another person (robbery) or unauthorized entry onto a property for the purpose of committing a crime (burglary).
In fact, most stealing crimes do NOT involve robberies and burglaries. Shoplifting, for example, is the most common type of stealing crime, which usually involves neither a robbery nor a burglary.
That’s why, in Missouri, stealing is typically a misdemeanor, whereas robbery and burglary are always felonies. Stealing can, however, constitute a felony if additional circumstances can be proven.
If it is determined that the amount stolen was $750 or more, or the item stolen constituted “special property” like a firearm, credit card, or a vehicle, it will be charged as a felony. (Even without the presence of burglary or robbery)
Burglary is the unauthorized entry upon the premises of another for the purpose of committing a crime. It’s like trespassing, but with additional criminal intentions.
The intended crime does NOT have to be stealing. We see cases where the intended crime was assault, domestic assault, kidnapping, or murder, but it can be almost any crime.
The burglary can be upgraded to a higher class felony if a participant:
- Was armed with a deadly weapon.
- Caused or threatened immediate physical injury to another person.
- There was another person present in the structure that was not a participant in the crime.
Burglary is ALWAYS considered a felony in Missouri, unlike most stealing crimes that are considered a misdemeanor.
Robbery is stealing from a person, with the added use of force or threatened force. Examples of force might include:
- Physically injuring another person.
- Armed with a deadly weapon.
- Using or threatening the immediate use of a dangerous instrument against any person.
- Displaying or threatening to use what appears to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
- Stealing any controlled substance from a pharmacy.
The colloquial term for robbery is “mugging” because of the threatened or actual use of force. Robbery is always treated much more seriously in court.
In Missouri, Robbery 1st Degree is considered a “dangerous felony,” which means that a person convicted of the offense must serve at least 85% of their sentence before being eligible for parole.
What are the penalties for stealing, burglary, and robbery?
In addition to the types of charges, there are varying degrees, which could significantly affect a case’s outcome. A misdemeanor is punishable by small fines and up to a year in jail, while a felony charge can land you in prison for up to 30 years with limited chance for parole, depending on the circumstances.
Any person convicted of offenses that are considered a “dangerous felony” must serve at least 85% of their prison sentence before being eligible for parole.
This is where those “additional circumstances” are so important.
- Were there any victims harmed or threatened while the crime took place?
- Were there any deadly weapons, dangerous instruments, or explosives used or threatened?
- Were there controlled substances present?
- Did any other crimes take place?
These factors will affect how a charge is classified and penalized.
Stealing $150 Or More Or Subsequent Offense
Stealing $150 or more or a subsequent offense is considered a Class A Misdemeanor. Punishable by up to (1) year in county jail, and fines of up to $2,000.
Stealing $750 Or More
Stealing $750 or more is considered a Class D Felony. Punishable by up to (7) years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Stealing $25,000 Or More
Stealing $25,000 or more is considered a Class C Felony. Punishable by up to (10) years in prison and fines of up to $10,000
Stealing Special Property
Stealing certain special property could result in the stealing charges being elevated to a Class D felony. Some of the most common include:
- Motor vehicles
- Credit or debit cards
- Controlled substances
- Methamphetamine precursors
Burglary 1st Degree
Burglary in the first degree is considered a Class B Felony. Punishable by a minimum of (5) five to a maximum of (15) fifteen years in prison.
Burglary 2nd Degree
Burglary in the second degree is considered a Class D Felony. Punishable by up to (7) years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Robbery 1st Degree
Robbery in the first degree is considered a Class A Felony. Punishable by a minimum of (10) ten to a maximum of (30) thirty years in prison, life imprisonment. This is classified as a “dangerous felony,” so at least 85% of the prison sentence must be served to be eligible for parole.
Robbery 2nd Degree
Robbery in the second degree is considered a Class B Felony. Punishable by a minimum of (5) five years to a maximum of (15) thirty years in prison.
Do You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you’re facing charges for stealing, burglary, robbery, or any other crime, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Even a small stealing charge can result in jail time and fines, not to mention a criminal record. These charges have repercussions that can be detrimental to your future. You can be held back in your career, kept from loved ones, miss out on your dream home, and ultimately struggle to live the life you want for yourself.
You deserve a proper defense. If you’ve been convicted or fear a conviction may be coming, start planning your defense with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
Contact us right away for a free consultation.