What is the difference between robbery and burglary in the UK?
Robbery and burglary are separate offences under English law. Robbery means stealing from someone using or threatening force. Burglary means entering a property without permission, in order to steal from it, commit a serious assault or cause criminal damage. The maximum sentence for robbery is life. For burglary, it depends on the type of property entered.
Theft, robbery and burglary - the law
Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 (the act) defines theft as the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other person of it. This covers a vast range of scenarios where people have asked for our help. This would include a client’s teenage child being caught shoplifting, employees in a position of trust alleged to have stolen from their company to vast car ringing conspiracies.
Theft can be tried either at the Magistrates or Crown Court, in some circumstances this would be your choice, one which our solicitors would advise you upon. The courts have a range of sentencing powers available to them which vary from an absolute discharge through to a significant custodial sentence. The sentence will vary, amongst other factors, on the role of the defendant in the offence, the value of the theft and the sophistication of the offence.
Section 8(1) of the act contains the following definition for robbery:
'A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force.'
If a firearm (or imitation) is used during the course of a robbery, an additional firearms offence is likely to be added in addition to the charge of robbery.
Robbery can only be tried in the Crown Court, before a judge and jury. If convicted, robbery carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but in deciding the level of sentence the court will consider what type of robbery has been committed, the level of sophistication of the robbery, whether a weapon was used (armed robbery) and whether the victim had been targeted due to their religion, race, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity; amongst other factors. There are a range of mitigating circumstances which the court can take into account and issues about the categorisation of the offence can make a massive difference to the sentence imposed.
Types of allegations that our criminal defence solicitors can deal with include:
- Street and less sophisticated commercial robbery (examples include muggings, mobile phone snatches)
- Professionally planned commercial robbery (criminal conspiracy to rob, cash in transit robberies)
- Robbery at a dwelling (for example where it is said that the occupants have been threatened or assaulted in their own home)
Our specialist defence solicitors can make a difference in relation to these cases. If the allegations are contested, we will ensure that the prosecution evidence is challenged and your defence is advanced. Our expert representation at the police station and court will be supplemented by the right counsel at the Crown Court. Where appropriate we will also challenge forensic, telephone and cell-site evidence, obtaining our own reports from our bank of approved experts.
The offence of burglary requires a defendant to have entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser. When entering as a trespasser, the defendant must have the intention to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm or commit unlawful damage or proof that upon entry the defendant stole or attempted to steal something or inflicting grievous bodily harm upon a person or attempted to do so.
Burglary can be tried at the Magistrates or Crown Court. It can include what most people think of as burglary, a “dwelling house” burglary, where someone’s home is broken into. However, there doesn’t need to be a break-in for a burglary to be committed. Commonly, car-keys can be taken through a letterbox or entry obtained through an insecure window or door – these each amount to burglary. Non-dwelling house burglaries (often known as commercial burglaries) can involve the targeting of high value property belonging to individuals or companies. The so called “£200 million Hatton Garden Robbery” was in fact not a robbery at all, but a burglary as no force or threat of force was used.
In a similar way to robbery offences, these more sophisticated offence allegations require a sophisticated defence involving a team of solicitors, counsel and forensic experts. This is something that we can and do consistently provide.
If you require immediate representation we have highly skilled police station representatives available 24 hours a day all year round. If you require emergency assistance outside the normal working hours please contact 07836 574 607.
Otherwise please contact the office on 01616 966 229 or complete one of our online enquiry forms and a member of the team will contact you as soon as possible.