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Colorado Criminal Defense Blog

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Though often grouped together, theft, robbery, and burglary are three distinct crimes in Colorado.

All three are serious criminal offenses that carry severe consequences, but these three offenses are distinguished by a variety of factors—including means, methods, and victims involved in the crime.


Below, we’ve explored some of the similarities and differences between theft, robbery, and burglary.


Theft. This is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of criminal actions that involve taking something of value without permission in an attempt to deprive the other person of the use or benefit of the valuable item. You could be charged with theft for committing crimes such as shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, theft by fraud, identity theft, or employee theft.


Theft crimes are often charged and sentenced according to the value of property taken. There are two primary categories for theft offenses, including:


  • Petty theft. Petty theft is a misdemeanor charge, and may occur when the offender steals items worth less than $500.
  • Grand theft. Grand theft is a felony, typically involving the theft of property or things valued at $500 or more.


Denver Theft Attorney


Robbery. Much like theft, robbery involves taking something that doesn’t belong to you without permission. However, the key difference between the two is that robbery occurs when you take something from another person using violence or threat of violence.


While you can commit theft by taking goods from a store, forging checks, or stealing a car when no one else is present, you cannot commit robbery unless you are taking something directly from another person. Robbery involves violence or the threat of violence, which means you can commit robbery by physically forcing someone to give you something, or by simply threatening or coercing them into giving something to you.


Like theft, robbery may also be divided into two classes: simple and aggravated. Simple robbery occurs when you use force, threat, or intimidation, while aggravated robbery occurs when you commit a crime with a weapon or assault the victim.


Burglary. Unlike theft and robbery, burglary doesn’t have to involve taking something without authorization—though it often does. You can be charged with burglary simply for attempting to enter a structure unlawfully with the intent to commit any crime, including theft, robbery, vandalism, assault, or a sex crime inside. Entering any type of structure illegally could constitute burglary, from residential homes to office buildings to tents.


Denver Residential Burglary Attorney


In Colorado, burglary charges are classified into three separate degrees.


  • Third degree burglary. You may be charged with third degree burglary for breaking into a vault, safe, or locked container with the intention of committing a criminal offense, such as theft.
  • Second degree burglary. This type of burglary occurs if you unlawfully enter a building with the intention of committing a crime.
  • First degree burglary. Much like second degree burglary, first degree burglary involves illegally entering a building with the intent to commit a criminal offense. However, to commit first degree burglary, you must assault or menace another person while you are entering, inside, or exiting the structure.


Despite their many differences, all three crimes are punishable with prison time, hefty fines, and a life-long criminal record. Whether you are facing theft, robbery, or burglary charges, it’s in critical to contact a Colorado defense attorney immediately. With an aggressive defense attorney in your corner, you will be in the best position possible to have your charges reduced or dropped, thus avoiding devastating consequences to your freedom, future, and reputation.


About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.



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