What’s the Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary? - Sand Law North Dakota
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What’s the Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary?

15th October 2021

What’s the Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary - Sand Law PLLC North Dakota Criminal Defense Attorneys

You might not have ever given much thought to the differences between theft, robbery and burglary. But if you or a loved one has been charged with one of these crimes, you’re probably finding yourself thinking about those differences much more than you like. It’s very important to know how these different crimes differ. Additionally, it’s helpful to have a good idea of what to expect if you’ve been arrested.

The attorneys at Sand Law are experts in providing the highest-quality defense possible to those charged with these crimes. This is a high-stakes situation. So you want the best representation you can find. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, please give us a call at 701-609-1510 or use our online form.

Here’s some information on theft, robbery and burglary, including a brief description of each, and the potential consequences of being found guilty.


Theft is an extremely common crime. Not only in North Dakota but in the rest of the United States as well. This term encompasses a wide variety of offenses, ranging from something as simple as shoplifting a bag of potato chips to extortion.

As a result, the court system looks at each individual case differently. Likewise, possible penalties vary based on the severity of the offense. If you’ve been charged with a relatively small crime, then you’ll be looking at a relatively minor penalty. If your offense is considered severe, then you could be facing a very long jail sentence. You’ll learn more about the penalties below.

One thing to keep in mind is the so-called “$500 rule”. This basically means that, in most instances, if the item that was stolen was not worth more than $500, then the crime is considered to be a misdemeanor. If the item is valued between $501-$1,000, it will still be a misdemeanor. However, there are harsher penalties usually applied. If it’s more than $1,001 in value, then the defendant will likely face a felony charge.


Robbery is usually considered a violent crime, involving the theft of property by force. However, a crime can be considered to be a robbery even if no actual physical violence takes place. Robbery could also involve simply the threat of violence.


When most people think of a burglary, the first thing that comes to mind is someone wearing a mask and sneaking into a home or a place of business under the cover of night. While it usually involves breaking into a structure and entering it illegally, this doesn’t necessarily have to happen. Someone can be charged with burglary if they walk into an unlocked structure and steal something – or if they do so using a key. Even if the person charged isn’t successful in taking an item, they could still be charged with burglary.

Classification of These Charges and Their Penalties

Theft, robbery and burglary can each be classified in different areas. Theft can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony. However, robbery and burglary are almost always considered felonies. The following is information on how these crimes are classified, and their potential penalties:

Theft Classifications/Penalties

There are a lot of different classifications for theft in North Dakota. When classified as a Class A or B misdemeanor, the penalties range from 30 to 360 days in jail and a fine of $1,500 fine to $3,000.

Class A, B and C felonies come with penalties ranging from 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of between $10,000 and $20,000.

Robbery Classifications/Penalties

Since robbery is considered a more serious crime, the penalties can be more severe. If the defendant fires a firearm or explosive device during a robbery, that’s considered a Class A felony offense. The penalties for this class is a prison sentence up to 20 years and up to a $20,000 fine.

If the defendant either has or pretends to have a firearm or destructive device, or threatens serious bodily injury, that is a Class B offense. This entails up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.

Finally, a Class C robbery is a charge that doesn’t fall into either Class A or Class B category. The penalty for this crime is up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Burglary Classifications/Penalties

Burglary is usually considered a Class B or C felony. Circumstances that determine classification include entering someone else’s home at night, inflicting bodily harm (or restraining, or attempting to restrain another person) when entering or leaving a dwelling, and others.

What Happens When You’re Arrested for Theft, Robbery, or Burglary?

No matter what the crime, when someone is arrested they will be taken to the police station and booked. They will then be processed, their fingerprints will be taken, and then they’ll be photographed. Their bail will be set. However, they may have to appear in front of a judge to learn if they’ll be granted bail or not. The defendant will then be placed into custody.

As far as the process involved with a trial, there are several lengthy steps. All defendants can be confronted by witnesses, but they can also cross-examine them. A defendant can ask for a trial by jury or by a judge, and is also entitled to a speedy trial. Defendants can, however, try to delay their trial if they wish in order to get more time to gather the evidence they need to strengthen their defense.

Meet with an Experienced North Dakota Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you’re facing jail time after being charged with theft, robbery, burglary or any other crime, you’ll have to find the best legal representation possible. An experienced attorney will fight for your innocence or help decrease your punishment if you’re found guilty.

Skilled attorneys have a deep understanding of the legal system. And we’ll tell you exactly what to expect through all phases of your case. Our firm also have relationships with prosecutors, which could make it easier to negotiate a plea deal if necessary.

If you have been charged with theft, robbery, burglary or any other sort of crime, turn to the professionals with Sand Law. Contact us online or call 701-609-1510 for a free review of your case.

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