Theft crimes are some of the most common offenses, but quite a few people don't really understand the different kinds of theft laws in New Jersey. While most people realize that retail fraud is effectively shoplifting, which is a form of theft conducted inside a business, there are other kinds of theft that they may not understand.
Many people don't understand the difference between a burglary and a robbery although both are theft under New Jersey law. If you or a loved one are facing allegations related to theft, burglary or robbery, familiarizing yourself with the difference between these forms of theft can help you understand the potential consequences and develop a defense strategy for court.
Robbery is a crime where the victim is present
Theft can happen at any time, but when one person steals directly from another, whether they use threats, intimidation, weapons or physical violence, that is robbery under New Jersey law. For the state to bring a charge of robbery against an alleged thief, the victim who had their possession(s) stolen or who experienced an attempted theft must have been present when the alleged thief tried to deprive them of their possessions.
Robbery can include thefts in various forms like muggings, where a stranger comes up and either uses a weapon or threat of physical violence to induce someone to hand over their wallet, phone, jewelry and other valuables.
Burglary charges don't require a victim to be present
Burglary is a kind of theft crime that occurs when one person enters the residence, business or property of someone else. In some cases, burglary happens when people are at home or working at the business. They may or may not be aware of the theft as it occurs.
Other times, burglaries happen specifically when someone is not at home to reduce the likelihood of the victim identifying the perpetrators in court. Sometimes, those attempting to burglarize someone's home can wind up surprised when the property owner returns home unexpectedly. Burglaries can sometimes result in additional violence, potentially including assault, unlawful restraint or even murder.
New Jersey takes theft crimes seriously
Both burglary and robbery carry significant penalties under New Jersey criminal statutes. In fact, lawmakers are currently working toward increasing the penalties and restricting existing legal loopholes for those accused of theft crime.
If you or someone you love may soon face charges related to a robbery or a burglary, talking with an attorney with experience in New Jersey criminal law can help you develop a defense strategy to minimize the impact of those charges on your life and future.