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What Is Robbery?

The term robbery refers to several theft crimes. Whether the perpetrator is armed, whether the victim is present, and what type of item is being stolen are some of the factors that influence the severity of the crime. Regardless of severity, under criminal law, robbery is almost always considered a felony. Burglary is a closely related crime that is oftentimes confused with robbery. The key difference between the two being that burglary occurs when there is no one present at the time the perpetrator steals something. 

The Different Types of Robberies


A robbery occurs when the perpetrator steals something from someone who is present at the time. It is not armed robbery if there is no firearm, knife, or other weapons, and the perpetrator does not use aggravated force during the crime. 

Armed Robbery

Those who commit armed robbery use a weapon such as a gun or knife. Even if the weapon is not used, it is still classified as an armed robbery. Examples of armed robbery would include a bank robbery where the robbers had guns or using a gun to force someone to give up their car or purse. 

Armed robbery carries more severe penalties than robberies without a weapon. For example, in the state of Texas, robbery is a second-degree felony with a penalty of two to twenty years. Armed robbery, on the other hand, carries a more serious penalty of five to 99 years in prison. 

Aggravated Robbery

In some jurisdictions, aggravated robbery is considered the same as armed robbery. Depending on the location, the victim must be injured for the robbery to be classified as aggravated. Like armed robbery, aggravated robbery will carry much harsher sentences than a standard robbery charge. 


A carjacking involves taking a vehicle from someone by force. The perpetrator will often use a gun or violence in order to force someone from their vehicle. The penalties for carjacking vary from state to state. In New York, it can carry up to 25 years in prison. California has three, five, or nine-year sentences for carjacking. 

What is the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary? 

Theft is defined as taking someone’s property without the use of force. Burglary involves entering someone else’s property to steal from them. Therefore, a “burglar” must enter someone’s home or property to take something. There are three basic types of burglary. 

  • Domestic Burglary: This type of burglary occurs when the perpetrator enters a home or dwelling and steals something. It can refer to houses, apartments, or even boats or caravans.  
  • Non-Domestic Burglary: This type of burglary occurs in places where no one is living, such as a store or an office. The penalty is typically less than domestic burglary. 
  • Aggravated Burglary: Aggravated burglary occurs when the perpetrator is carrying a firearm or other dangerous weapon. This is the most serious type of burglary and can carry a sentence of up to life in prison. 

Robbery and burglary both involve stealing something from someone. Robbery is typically dealt with more harshly because the victim has a greater chance of being harmed. The difference between armed robbery and robbery can be confusing, but the easiest way to tell them apart is that a deadly weapon is present during an armed robbery. 

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*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice