Robbery vs. Burglary: What’s the Difference?

Written By: Moermond & Mulligan, LLC

Last Updated: 04-23-2024

Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2024 at 9:00 am    

Robbery vs. Burglary_ What’s the Difference

In the minds of many people, there’s no difference between robbery and burglary. But these terms have very different meanings under Ohio law. And if you face robbery or burglary charges in Ohio, knowing how the law defines these offenses is crucial to preparing an effective defense.

At Moermond & Mulligan, LLC, our Cincinnati theft crimes lawyers have ample experience with both burglary and robbery cases. We understand the subtle nuances of both types of cases and how to prepare a robust defense on your behalf. Today, we’re exploring the essential differences between robbery and burglary charges, as well as some potential defenses you can employ.

What Is Robbery in Ohio?

The Ohio Revised Code contains the definition of robbery that prosecutors use in these cases. The law says someone commits robbery when they try to steal something or are escaping after trying to steal something and also do one of the following:

  • Carry a deadly weapon or have it under their control.
  • Hurt someone, try to hurt someone, or threaten to hurt someone.
  • Use or threaten to use force right away against someone.

Furthermore, the law makes a distinction based on how severe the robbery is. If someone uses a deadly weapon or causes physical harm, it is considered a more serious robbery and is classified as a second-degree felony. If the person only uses or threatens to use force, it’s a third-degree felony. Robbery in Ohio involves both the intention to steal and the use of force or threat, making it a serious crime that can have significant consequences.

What Is Aggravated Robbery in Ohio?

In addition to standard robbery charges, people may face the heightened charges of aggravated robbery. According to Ohio law, the definition of aggravated robbery is:

  • The offender has a deadly weapon, and either shows it, makes it known they have it, or uses it.
  • The offender has or controls a dangerous weapon or explosive device.
  • The offender seriously injures someone or attempts to do so.

Additionally, this law addresses situations involving law enforcement officers. It is also considered aggravated robbery if someone tries to take a weapon from a police officer or tries to disarm them during the officer’s duties if they know the victim is a police officer.

Authorities view aggravated robbery as a particularly severe offense because it involves direct threats to physical safety with deadly weapons or by targeting police officers. Aggravated robbery is a first-degree felony and carries much harsher penalties than standard robbery.

What Is Burglary in Ohio?

When you look at the Ohio Revised Code, the critical difference between burglary and robbery is that robbery charges involve stealing things using force or threats. Specifically, the law says burglary involves entering a building or part of a building by force, stealth, or deception. Here are the key elements that make up the crime of burglary:

  • Trespassing in an occupied structure, or a secured part of one, when someone else is there.
  • The person trespassing has the intention to commit any crime once inside.

Burglary can also occur if the structure is someone’s home, whether or not someone is likely to be there, and the intruder plans to commit a crime. If the trespassing is accompanied by potential violence or threat because someone is present, it’s a second-degree felony. On the other hand, if there’s no immediate threat to others, it’s a third-degree felony.

Aggravated Burglary in Ohio

Just like Ohio law separates aggravated robbery from standard robbery, the state also includes a separate definition for aggravated burglary. Here’s what constitutes aggravated burglary:

  • Illegally entering an occupied structure by force, stealth, or deception where another person who is not an accomplice is present.
  • Planning to commit any criminal offense inside and, during this act, one of two things happens. One: The intruder hurts someone, tries to hurt someone, or threatens to hurt someone. Two: The intruder has a deadly weapon or dangerous equipment with them.

Aggravated burglary is considered a felony of the first degree due to its potential for serious harm or threat. Therefore, it carries harsher penalties than a conviction for standard burglary.

Penalties for Robbery and Burglary in Ohio

The particular penalties for robbery and burglary offenses in Ohio depend on the specific charge and the circumstances of the case. Broadly speaking, here’s how the penalties break down for these offenses:

  • Third-degree felony robbery – Up to 3 years in prison in most cases, longer sentences possible for repeat offenses. Fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony robbery – Up to 8 years in prison in most cases, longer sentences possible in certain circumstances. Fine of up to $15,000
  • Aggravated robbery – Always a first-degree felony. Up to 11 years in prison as a baseline, longer sentences possible in certain circumstances. Fine of up to $20,000.
  • Fourth-degree felony burglary – Up to 18 months in prison. Fine of up to $5,000.
  • Third-degree felony burglary – Up to 3 years in prison in most cases, longer sentences possible for repeat offenses. Fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony burglary – Up to 8 years in prison in most cases, longer sentences possible in certain circumstances. Fine of up to $15,000
  • Aggravated burglary – Always a first-degree felony. Up to 11 years in prison as a baseline, longer sentences possible in certain circumstances. Fine of up to $20,000.

Possible Defenses in Robbery and Burglary Cases

Robbery vs. Burglary_ What’s the DifferenceSeveral strategies can prove effective in Ohio robbery and burglary cases. One common defense strategy is proving a lack of intent. If the accused did not intend to commit a crime at the time of entering the property, this could be a viable defense. For example, if someone believed they had permission to be on the property, this could negate the criminal intent required for these charges.

Another defense is mistaken identity. The accused might argue they were not the person who committed the crime. Supporting evidence like alibis or video footage could help establish this claim. It’s crucial to work with an experienced theft crimes defense lawyer to avoid the worst possible outcomes in these cases.

Contact Our Ohio Theft Crimes Defense Attorneys Now

Burglary and robbery charges in Ohio carry hefty penalties that can ruin your future. If you face any of these charges, Moermond & Mulligan, LLC can help you find the right strategy to avoid the worst potential outcome. Call us today at (513) 421-9790 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.