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Robbery vs. Burglary Charges: What’s the Difference in SC?
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Robbery vs. Burglary Charges: What’s the Difference in SC?

You may be thinking that robbery and burglary are the same thing. You picture someone stealing something from someone’s vehicle, or breaking into a home or business to steal a TV.

While many people use these terms as one in the same, in reality, they are not. Read on to learn about the differences between robbery and burglary, and the consequences for each.

Robbery vs Burglary

The major difference between robbery and burglary is the element of theft — the unauthorized taking of property owned by another party with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Robbery must include the element of theft and the use or threat of force to conduct the theft from the person of another. Such use of force (or threat of force) may be committed against a person in possession of or responsible for the property, even if that person is not the actual owner. While robbery is considered a violent crime, that doesn’t mean the victim always suffers some type of bodily injury. For instance, holding up a convenience store at gunpoint is considered robbery, whether or not anyone was injured by the presence of the gun.

Burglary is frequently accompanied by theft, but theft is not required in order for a crime to be considered burglary. Burglary itself is the unlawful entry into a structure, such as a home or business, with the intent to commit a crime inside — whether or not the intended crime is theft. In fact, a person can be convicted of burglary without actually committing any further crime whatsoever once inside the structure, as long as the intent to commit a crime can be reasonably determined. A victim does not need to present for a burglary to be committed.

Basics of Robbery Charges in SC

To further clear up possible confusion regarding the difference between burglary and robbery, here are two examples of different crimes that would be considered the crime of robbery in South Carolina:

  • A man corners a woman and forces her to give him her purse.
  • A woman commits a bank robbery by pointing a gun at the bank teller, demanding that the teller open the bank vault and give her the money inside.

Both of the scenarios above are considered robbery, just different kinds. In SC, the crime of robbery is broken down into two types: armed robbery and strong-arm robbery.

What is strong-arm robbery?

Strong-arm robbery may be a new term to you. In short, it’s robbery without a weapon. For a crime to be considered strong-arm robbery, the robber must have used bodily force or intimidation in order to take property belonging to someone else, but without having used any kind of weapon.

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Strong-arm Robbery Felony Up to 15 years in jail*

* The amount of jail time will vary based on judicial discretion: the judge’s power to make subjective decisions without being bound to precedent or strict rules. That being said, a judge may also sentence to no jail time and/or probation on a strong arm robbery case.

What is armed robbery?

For a crime to be considered armed robbery, the robber must have used force or intimidation in the taking of another’s property while armed with a deadly weapon or claiming to be armed with such a weapon.

The South Carolina Code of Laws considers a pistol, dirk, slingshot, metal knuckles and razor to be among items considered as deadly weapons. According to the code, if it’s claimed that the you were armed, it means that you stated or acted as if you had a weapon, causing the victim to have reasonable belief that you did, in fact, have a weapon.

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Armed Robbery Felony 10 to 30 years in jail without suspension or probation.*

Must serve 7 years for parole eligibility

* The amount of jail time will vary based on judicial discretion: the judge’s power to make subjective decisions without being bound to precedent or strict rules. That being said, a defendant convicted of armed robbery is not eligible for probation in South Carolina.

The Basics of Burglary Charges in SC

While robbery by definition must include both theft and force against a present victim, burglary, on the other hand, requires neither. Here are two examples of crimes that would be considered burglary in South Carolina:

  • Trespassing on someone’s property and entering their home without permission, through a locked window and with the intent to damage property inside, but exiting the premises before causing any actual damage to the property
  • Breaking and entering a sporting goods store, playing around with some of the equipment inside, and taking a few items

Types of Burglary in SC

A burglary charge in South Carolina must include three basic elements:

  • 1- A dwelling or other structure was entered.
  • 2- The entry was considered unlawful.
  • 3- It is reasonably determined that there was intent to commit a crime therein.

A burglary may be committed using forcible entry (such as breaking a window or picking a lock to gain access to the building), or non-forcible entry (such as entering a building through an unlocked door or open window). No crime may have taken place once inside, but if the intent on entering the dwelling or structure was to commit a crime, a burglary charge can be made.

South Carolina has broken the crime of burglary into three categories: first, second and third degree.

First-degree burglary will be the charge if you:

  • unlawfully entered a dwelling (i.e., a residence or home) with the intent to commit a crime therein; AND at least one of the following conditions are met:
    • cause physical injury to another person or used, threatened to use, or displayed a deadly weapon during the crime or while fleeing the scene;
    • had two or more prior burglary convictions; or
    • committed the crime during at nighttime.
Charge
Classification
Penalty
1st-degree burglary Felony Life in Prison

First degree burglary is a violent crime. For more information on how this affects your sentence, please click here to read my article on violent crimes.

Second-degree burglary is broken into two sub-categories: nonviolent and violent.

Non-violent 2nd-degree burglary will be the charge if you unlawfully entered a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime therein (no weapon or threat of a weapon) and the crime occurred during the daytime. If there was a weapon or threat of a weapon, or if you have two more prior burglary charges, it would be a 1st degree burglary charge. In other words, nonviolent burglary 2nd, is the same as burglary first without the presence of a weapon, prior convictions or the crime occurring in the nighttime.

Violent 2nd-degree burglary will be the charge if you unlawfully entered a non-residential building with the intent to commit a crime inside and at least one of the following enhancing conditions are met:

  • cause physical injury to another person or used, threatened to use, or displayed a deadly weapon during the crime or while fleeing the scene;
  • caused physical injury to another person;
  • had two or more prior burglary convictions; or
  • committed the crime during at nighttime.

In other words, violent burglary second degree is the same as burglary first degree except with the only difference being that in a burglary 1st, the crime occurs in a dwelling whereas in burglary 2nd the crime occurs in a “building.”

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Nonviolent 2nd-degree burglar Felony Up to 10 years in prison*
Violent 2nd-degree burglary Felony Up to 15 years in prison*

Third-degree burglary will be the charge if you unlawfully entered a building with the intent to commit a crime therein under circumstances not included in 1st- or 2nd-degree burglary. In other words, a third degree burglary occurs when you unlawfully enter a building, not a dwelling, and none of the enhancing conditions mentioned above are present.

Charge
Classification
Penalty
3rd-degree burglary Felony Up to 5 years in prison for a first conviction;

up to 10 years in jail for a subsequent conviction*

* The amount of jail time will vary based on judicial discretion: —the judge’s power to make subjective decisions without being bound to precedent or strict rules.

Do you need help with your case?

If you’re dealing with charges of robbery or burglary in South Carolina, you need a criminal defense attorney who can:

  • protect your rights
  • fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed
  • help prepare you in order to receive the most favorable judgment at sentencing

I’ve helped many people just like you successfully navigate the criminal justice system while seeking the best possible outcome given your situation.

To discuss your case, call me today at 803-779-4472 or contact me online.

Ready to Speak with an Attorney?

Contact Lori Murray to discuss your situation.

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