Is It Burglary or Robbery?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

looting or robberyRobbery and burglary are both theft crimes, but the state of New Mexico defines these criminal acts differently. The one you are charged with will make a difference when it comes to creating a defense strategy and the potential punishments you face.

Both crimes involve taking property that is not yours. But beyond that similarity, each offense takes its separate path. Regardless of which charge you face, these are serious allegations that require a criminal defense attorney.

Exploring How Albuquerque Courts Define Robbery versus Burglary

You might hear burglary and robbery used interchangeably outside of the courtroom. But in a legal setting, these words are two very different terms.

What Is a Robbery Crime?

New Mexico law defines robbery as the theft of anything of value from a person – or the removal of control of an item of value – by the use of threats, violence, or force. The state sees robbery as a violent crime against a victim, which means it will carry harsher penalties than burglary. Robbery is a felony in New Mexico.

You do not have to harm a person physically to be convicted of robbery. If you steal something with the threat of force or threat of violence, it is enough to constitute a robbery charge. For example, you present a gun to a person and demand that they give you their wallet. While you have no intention of harming them, you have threatened the use of violence to steal from them; thus, you are committing a robbery.

The Classifications of Robbery

Robbery can be classified further, depending on the circumstances of the crime. It may be prosecuted as completed or attempted – depending on whether you took the item successfully. A completed robbery typically faces harsher punishment than attempted. Likewise, if you cause actual harm to the victim, you will have enhanced penalties as opposed to when you only threaten the victim.

Armed robbery also faces harsher punishments. Any time you use a weapon, even to threaten, you may face weapon charges and theft charges.

What Is a Burglary Crime?

A burglary can be committed armed or unarmed and involves the unlawful entering of someone’s home with the intent to commit a crime. You do not have to break in to be arrested and convicted for burglary. Any illegal entry in a structure at any time of the day would constitute burglary, especially if that entry was done with the intent to commit another felony – such as theft.

The Classifications of Burglary

Specific acts during the burglary determine what classification of crime you might be charged with. For example, unlawfully entering someone’s home with the intent to commit a violent crime is typically charged as a first-degree felony.

Breaking and entering into a residence or business to steal a low-value item is more likely to be charged as a fourth-degree crime. The presence of a weapon will profoundly influence whether the prosecutor can argue if you had violent intentions. Realize, weapons take many forms. And a prosecutor could argue that any item that might be used as a weapon, such as a baseball bat, qualifies for enhanced penalties,.

The Four Categories of Felonies and Their Punishments

In New Mexico, robbery and burglary are both felonies that range from first to fourth degree. First-degree felonies are the most serious and carry the longest jail sentence.

  • First-degree felony – A first-degree felony is the most serious and rarely will a burglary charge fall into first-degree. Armed robbery, however, can become a first-degree felony. If any physical harm occurs to the victim, you are even more likely to face a first-degree felony. If convicted, a first-degree felony has a minimum of 18 years imprisonment and a minimum fine of $15,000.
  • Second-degree felony – Second-degree felonies are reserved for severe acts but are based off the value of the property. If the property you steal is over $20,000, you may automatically be charged with a second-degree felony that carries up to 9 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony – Third-degree felonies apply to both robbery and burglary, and the value of the property stolen or attempted to be taken ranges from $2,500 to $20,000. The punishment includes up to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Fourth-degree felony – Fourth-degree felonies involve property between $500 to $2,500 in value. This felony still carries up to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

New Mexico’s Enhanced Penalties

Your sentence may increase if firearms are present during the commission of the burglary or robbery, or if you have prior criminal convictions. For example, if you use a gun in a non-capital felony, you will have an extra year added to your sentence. If you have already been convicted of a firearm crime, then the penalty increases to three years on top of the statute’s minimum sentence.

Enhanced penalties cannot be suspended or deferred, which means you will be forced to serve those portions of the sentences.

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately

Burglary and robbery allegations are grave. If you have questions about these felony charges or you are curious about the consequences if you are convicted, speak with a criminal defense attorney.

You have minimal time to mount your defense in these cases, and you need an attorney that has experience handling burglary and robbery crimes. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is committed to providing our clients with the strongest defense strategy possible. We know how the criminal justice system works, and we aggressively fight for the best possible outcome in our clients’ cases.

Schedule a free case evaluation now by calling 505-375-4763 or /”>contacting us online with your questions.