Robbery, in criminal law, felonious act consisting of the unlawful taking, by means of violence or intimidation, of property in the possession or in the immediate presence or control of another.
Robbery differs from the crime of larceny in that the latter does not involve the use of force or fear of personal injury. Thus pickpocketing when not resisted is considered larceny; if however, resistance is offered and force is used by the pickpocket to retain the property, the act is considered robbery. To constitute robbery, the intimidation may consist of threats of violence either to the person from whom the property is taken or to a relative of that person. If the taking is accomplished without the use of force or intimidation and force or threats are used solely as a means of escape, the crime is not considered robbery.
In common law, robbery was punishable by death. By statute both in England and in much of the United States, degrees of robbery have been established with varying penalties, the most severe of which is life imprisonment for first-degree robbery committed by an offender armed with a dangerous weapon.
Burglary, in law, the crime of breaking into and entering the dwelling of another with felonious intent, whether or not the felony is actually perpetrated. English common law defined burglary as housebreaking at night only; in the United States, however, statutes vary from state to state. Some retain the common-law definition; others include housebreaking by day. To constitute burglary, breaking and entering must be inferred as, for example, gaining admission through a trick or threat or by raising a window and putting the hand inside with intent to steal, without bodily entrance.
In the U.S. other variables that affect the nature of the crime and influence the punishment include the type of structure involved (for example, whether it is a home, a store, or an office), whether the structure is occupied at the time of entry, the means used to obtain entry, the presence or absence of a weapon on the intruder, and the crime committed or intended after entry. In most of the U.S., entry into a movable structure, such as a train or boat or an airplane, with intent to commit a felony also constitutes burglary. Although burglary is usually committed for the purpose of robbery, it may be charged against other offenders, including murderers, rapists, and kidnappers.
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