Understanding the Differences Between Theft, Robbery & Burglary in Missouri

While theft, robbery, and burglary might sound like similar types of offenses, they are all different. Theft occurs when you take someone else’s property without their consent; robbery is taking something from someone using force or threats; and burglary generally refers to entering a place without permission to commit a crime. 

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What is Theft in Missouri?

Section 570.030 of the Missouri Revised Statutes defines theft as taking someone else’s personal property or services without permission, with no intention of returning it. This can include a wide range of actions, including:

  • Shoplifting (property stolen from a store)
  • Knowingly writing bad checks
  • Embezzlement by an employee
  • Identity theft
  • Auto theft
  • Fraud via false advertising or Ponzi schemes
  • Using services (like utilities) without intending to pay for them.
  • Knowing that property is stolen and receiving, retaining, or disposing of it.
  • Stealing or using someone else’s intellectual property (software, music, or written works) without authorization.
  • Not returning property rented from a car equipment rental, with the intent to keep it.

It does not matter if the property was physically taken, obtained by deceit, or by coercing the owner into handing it over. Under the legal definitions, it is all considered a theft act if the owner has not freely given it to you. Even if you have not physically obtained something if you have somehow gained control over someone’s property in a way that deprives them of its use or benefit, that can also be charged as theft.

If the value of the stolen property or services is less than $750, it is considered a petty theft misdemeanor, which is a less serious offense. While the state does not use the term “grand theft,” if the property is valued over $750, it is a Class B felony.

What is Robbery in Missouri?

Under Sections 569.020 and 569.030, robbery in Missouri means taking something from someone by using force or the threat of force. To be considered a robbery, the act must involve force or threat of force against the victim, and the perpetrator must intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

First-degree robbery occurs when a person forcibly steals property and, in the process, causes serious physical injury to another person, is armed with a deadly weapon, uses or threatens the use of a dangerous instrument, or displays or threatens the use of what appears to be a deadly weapon. Robbery offenses in the second degree constitute forcibly stealing property but without the factors that elevate the crime to the first degree.

In Missouri, robbery includes any of the following acts:

  • Armed robbery of a bank
  • Mugging
  • Carjacking (either by using physical violence against the driver or threatening them with a weapon)
  • Convenience store robbery using a weapon or the threat of violence
  • Purse snatching with force
  • Home invasion with the intention of stealing is also robbery when force or threat of force is used against the occupants

What is Burglary in Missouri?

According to the Missouri Revised Statutes (Sections 569.160 and 569.170), burglary involves a person illegally entering or remaining in a home, apartment, shed, or any structure without permission. They must have a clear intention to commit a crime inside that building; the intended crime does not have to be theft, it can be any criminal act.

The presence of weapons, causing injury, or threatening injury elevates the severity to first-degree burglary. A person commits burglary in the first degree if they knowingly enter a building unlawfully for the purpose of committing a crime, and they or another participant in the crime:

  • Is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon
  • Causes or threatens to cause physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime
  • Uses or threatens the use of a dangerous instrument against any person who is not a participant in the crime

Burglary in the first degree is a Class B felony, punishable by five to fifteen years in prison. A burglary in the second degree (a Class D felony) does not have the other aggravating factors required for first-degree burglary, so it is less severe, with the maximum sentence being imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine, or both.

Choose a Top-Rated Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing theft, robbery, or burglary charges in Missouri, you need a strong legal defense to protect your rights. Our criminal defense lawyers at Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC will prepare a compelling defense strategy to get your charges dismissed or reduced as far as possible. Give us a call at 573-222-0826 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation today.