Robbery, Burglary, and Trespassing: Know the Difference


Posted on November 06, 2015 by Jeffrey Feiler

Crimes relating to property are often misunderstood. However, it's important to know the difference, and know what the boundaries of a person's property are to both prevent and protect yourself from a difficult situation. If you're not sure whether or not it's legal for you to be on someone's property, the safest route is to get permission, and when in doubt, always consult with a local Miami, Florida criminal defense attorney.

The expression that "my house was robbed" is something we hear all the time, but in reality the expression is incorrect. A person can be "robbed". A house can be "burglarized", but it cannot be robbed. This is because robbery is crime against a person while Burglary is a crime against property. When something of value, such as cash, is taken from a person by the use of force or fear that constitutes a robbery. When no weapon is used, the crime is commonly referred to as a "strong arm robbery". When a firearm is used, the crime is technically "robbery with a firearm", but is commonly referred to as "armed robbery". When a deadly weapon is used the crime is technically "robbery with a deadly weapon" but it is also commonly referred to as an "armed robbery".

Sometimes there is a question as to whether the object used is in fact a deadly weapon. A "deadly weapon" is defined in Florida Statute 790.001, however, many objects which one would not ordinarily consider to be a deadly weapon at all (such as a robber threatening to hit the victim with a metal picture frame if they didn't give them their money) might be considered a deadly weapon "if it is used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm". In other words, a Jury would have to decide whether the metal picture frame became a deadly weapon under the circumstances.

Burglary occurs when a criminal enters a house with the intention to commit a crime therein. If the burglarized place is a house, that would be a "burglary of a dwelling". And, technically the house extends out to the "curtilage" of the house, which would include the porch. The burglary of a car is called "burglary of a conveyance". The burglary of a shed or other building is called a "burglary of a structure".

There is a difference between Burglary and Trespassing. To trespass, one simply enters the property of another without permission. The offense rises to a burglary when there is an intention to commit a crime therein. So, if you walk onto your neighbor's porch only to sit down and rest your weary feet that is trespassing since you do not have their permission, nor do you have the intention of committing any other offense. However, if your intent is to steal something on the porch that is a burglary. Or to set the porch on fire. Or to paint graffiti on the wall. The intent to commit any offense on that property converts the crime of trespass to a burglary. Technically, the defendant does not have to succeed in committing the offense. For example, the accused intended to set the porch on fire (the crime of Arson) but the matches were all wet. That is still a Burglary (however it is difficult to prove intent as that is an operation of the mind).

The Jeffrey Feiler law firm knows the difference between crimes and knows the correct legal terminology. Having Jeffrey Feiler represent you in a criminal case may very well result in a misdemeanor charge such as Trespass instead of a felony charge such as Burglary. Call Jeffrey Feiler at (305) 670-7700 for a consultation.

Disclaimer: The names of all persons, including Police, have been changed to fictitious names in the case of blog posts about actual cases handled by Jeffrey Feiler and the Feiler Law Firm. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal, legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.