Many people believe that burglary, robbery and theft can be used interchangeably because they all involve the unlawful taking of someone else’s property. Actually, while there are similar aspects to these three crimes, there are also nuanced differences.

Theft

In the State of Tennessee, a theft of property occurs when a person takes the property of another without consent and with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the use or possession of the property.

In Tennessee, if the value of property or services lost is under $500, then the offense is a misdemeanor. If the value of the property or services is over $500, the crime becomes a felony, and penalties increase based on the value of the property or services. For example, if the value of lost property or services is greater than $120,000, the crime is a Class A felony and can result in a prison sentence of 15 to 60 years, restitution and fines of up to $50,000.

Robbery

While theft is taking something that does not belong to you, robbery is taking something from a person using force or the threat of force. In the state of Tennessee, aggravated robbery occurs when a person uses a deadly weapon or leads a victim to believe a deadly weapon is being used or if the victim suffers serious bodily injury. Especially aggravated robbery occurs when a person uses a deadly weapon and the victim suffers bodily injury.

In Tennessee, the penalties for robbery depend on the severity of the crime. Robbery is a Class C felony and can carry a sentence of 3 to 15 years in prison as well as probation, fines up to $10,000 and court costs. Aggravated robbery is a Class B felony, which can result in a sentence of 8 to 30 years in prison along with probation, fines up to $25,000 and court costs. Finally, especially aggravated robbery carries the harshest penalties. It is considered a Class A felony and can result in a sentence of 15 to 60 years in prison, probation, fines up to $50,000 and court costs.

Burglary

Burglary is a crime that generally does involve theft, but a person does not necessarily need to take property to have committed burglary. In order for burglary to happen, a person must unlawfully enter a structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime within it. The structure is generally defined as any premises that is not open to the public. Burglary law can become complicated when it comes to what type of structure is involved and whether or not there was intent to commit a crime when the suspect entered the structure and what type of crime either took place or was intended to take place.

The intended crime in a burglary is not limited to theft. For example, a person can unlawfully enter a building with the intent to commit an assault and this is considered burglary. Conversely, a person can unlawfully enter a structure without any intent to commit a crime. In this case, the suspect may be charged with something else, such as trespassing.

Burglary carries steep penalties in Tennessee. For example, if a person is charged with entering a structure other than a home with the intent to commit a crime, it is considered a Class D felony and is punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison, along with probation, a fine of up to $5,000 and court costs. A burglary that takes place in a home is a Class C felony, punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison, probation, a fine of up to $10,000 and court costs.

Theft, robbery and burglary in Tennessee are serious crimes that require serious representation. At Oberman & Rice, we believe “Your Future is Our Present Concern®.”  We are committed to representing our clients with unparalleled attention and communication – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Call Oberman & Rice at (865) 249-7200 or fill out our online contact form to speak with an experienced Knoxville criminal defense lawyer.