There is a misconception in popular culture that burglary and robbery are synonymous terms. The two words are often used interchangeably in crime dramas, but the reality is that they are distinct, and can carry very different punishments.
According to the Missouri Revised Statute 569.170, Burglary in the 2nd degree occurs when a person “knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure for the purpose of committing a crime therein.” It is a class D felony punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment. Burglary in the First Degree, on the other hand, occurs when a person “knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure for the purpose of committing a crime therein … AND 1) armed with explosives or a deadly weapon, 2) causes or threatens immediate physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime, or 3) there is present in the structure another person who is not a participant in the crime. It is a Class B felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. (RSMo 569.160)
Robbery in the Second Degree occurs when a person “forcibly steals property and in the course thereof causes physical injury to another person.” (RSMo 570.025) It is a Class B felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. Robbery in the First Degree, by contrast, is when a person “forcibly steals property and in the course thereof… 1) causes serious physical injury to any person; or 2) is armed with a deadly weapon; or 3) uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument against any person; 4) Dispays or threatens the use of what appears to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or 5) steals any controlled substance from a pharmacy. Robbery in the First Degree is a class A felony and thus punishable by up to 30 years or life. (RSMo 570.023)
As you can see, while burglary and robbery are both crimes against persons, they are distinct in that a burglary involves the knowing and unlawful entry into a building or inhabitable structure for the purpose of committing a crime therein. Note that the statute does not specify which crime either; while often burglary involves breaking into a building to commit stealing, it can just as readily involve the unlawful entry into a dwelling in order to commit an assault. Robbery, on the hand, involves the forcible stealing of property from a person.
If you are charged with burglary or robbery in Jefferson County, Franklin County, St. Francois County, St. Louis County, or elsewhere within the state of Missouri, it is important to speak with an attorney who can explain your rights and property evaluate your case. Give us a call today to discuss options and next steps.