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What Is the Legal Difference Between Burglary and Robbery?

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What Is the Legal Difference Between Burglary and Robbery?


Legal language is very specific. It’s easy to confuse different terms and phrases, and we do so often. For instance, we often swap “assault” and “battery” even though, technically, these are different crimes.

Different forms of theft are often confused as well. Someone might enter their home, see that it is has been ransacked, and shout, “We’ve been robbed!” It would actually be more accurate for this person to say, “We’ve been burgled!”

In this article, we examine the legal distinction between burglary and robbery.

Comparing Burglary and Robbery

Burglary is when someone unlawfully enters a building with the intent to commit a crime. That crime is not necessarily theft. Also, if someone unlawfully enters a location and leaves, they have not committed burglary. This act is simply trespassing.

Robbery is when someone uses force or the threat of force to take something from another person. It is a direct, intimate act. You cannot commit robbery when no one else is present.

Both crimes can involve taking property, but the key difference is the direct use of force.

Legal Definition of Burglary in Nevada

In Nevada, burglary is defined as entering a structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. Even if an offender doesn't steal or commit a crime while inside the property, their intention to do so makes them liable for burglary charges.

Legal Definition of Robbery in Nevada

Robbery involves intentionally taking property from another person by using force or threats. The alleged victim must be present and aware of the threat against them.

Penalties for Burglary in Nevada

Residential Burglary

Residential burglary involves entering an occupied dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. It is a Category B felony in Nevada. If convicted, you could serve 1 to 10 years in state prison.

Burglary of a Business

This crime is a Category C felony in the state, and it is also punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison.

Burglary with Possession of a Deadly Weapon

The penalties increase when an alleged offender commits burglary while possessing a deadly weapon. It is still a Class B felony, but a conviction could result in 2 to 15 years in prison.

For each crime, the state can impose fines of up to $10,000.

Penalties for Robbery in Nevada

Nevada classifies robbery as a Category B felony. Conviction can result in 2 to 15 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections. If the robbery involved using a deadly weapon, the prison sentence could be increased to 30 years. Fines can go as high as $10,000.

Effective Defenses Against Burglary and Robbery Charges

Claim of Actual Innocence

This defense involves presenting evidence or witnesses that help prove you did not commit the crime.


An alibi defense attempts to prove that you were somewhere else during the crime.

Lack of Intent

For a burglary allegation, you could demonstrate that you did not intend to commit a crime. This claim could lower the charge to a simple trespassing offense.

Insufficient Evidence

If there is a lack of substantial evidence linking you to the crime, your attorney may argue that the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof.

Mistaken Identity

If you have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator, your defense lawyer can use evidence to argue your innocence.

If you’ve been accused of a theft crime, Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover is here to help. You can reach us by calling (775) 502-1575 or contacting us online.

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