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Difference Between Theft Burglary & Robbery

Posted by John C. Taylor | Feb 01, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Difference Between Theft, Burglary, and Robbery in Tennessee

While theft, burglary, and robbery are often closely associated with one another - or even used interchangeably - these are three distinct criminal offenses under Tennessee law. The following is some information about when you might be charged with each of these offenses.

Theft Crimes

Theft is a broad term that encompasses many acts that constitute “stealing.” Whether you steal something from a store (shoplifting), steal money from your employer (embezzlement), or steal a vehicle or firearms, it can all be lumped into the category of theft. This means that theft charges can apply in many different situations with varying severity.

Theft can be a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending largely on the value of what the accused allegedly stole. Some charges you might face in Tennessee include the following:

  • Less than $500 = Class A misdemeanor
  • $500 to $1,000 = Class E felony
  • $1,000 to $10,000 = Class D felony
  • $10,000 to $60,000 = Class C felony
  • More than $60,000 = Class B felony

Even for misdemeanor theft - also known as “petty theft” - you can face up to one year behind bars and fines of $2,500. Of course, the penalties can become significantly harsher for felony theft, also called “grand theft.”

Burglary Charges

Most people think burglary refers to someone breaking into a house and stealing items. While burglary can - and often does - involve theft, this is not always necessary. The elements of burglary under Tennessee law are:

  • Someone unlawfully entered or remained in a building
  • With the intention to commit theft, assault, or another type of felony offense

While theft is a common intention of someone who enters a building or dwelling unlawfully, this does not have to be the specific intent for them to face burglary charges. Burglary can be charged as a Class D felony, Class C felony, or Class B felony, depending on whether there are aggravating factors alleged by the prosecutor.

Robbery Charges

Robbery is a theft crime, though it specifically involves taking something from another person by using violence or putting the person in fear of violence. Because of the added element of force or threats, robbery is considered to be a violent crime, while most other theft-related offenses are not. Robbery is always a felony, and the charges can be escalated due to the use of a deadly weapon or injury sustained by the robbery victim. Penalties for robbery can include:

  • Robbery = Class C felony conviction and three to 15 years in prison
  • Aggravated robbery = Class B felony conviction and eight to 30 years in prison
  • Especially aggravated robbery = Class A felony conviction and 15 to 60 years in prison

Speak with a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer

The experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense team at Taylor Law Group is ready to help. We help our clients defend against all types of criminal charges, so please do not wait to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.

About the Author

John C. Taylor

John C. Taylor is a Murfreesboro native and a graduate of Oakland High School. He earned his bachelor's degree from Furman University in Greenville, SC, where he participated in the Furman Advantage Research program, studying religion in American politics. John also earned his Master's degree.


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