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What is the difference between theft, burglary, robbery, and armed robbery in Florida?

Nov 23, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Florida law includes separate definitions for different crimes that involve stealing. In order to understand the possible punishments someone could face if convicted of one of these crimes, it is first necessary to differentiate between how the law defines theft and burglary, robbery, armed robbery, and robbery by sudden snatching.

Theft and burglary

Theft is a term used for taking something that does not belong to you, whereas burglary is specific for entering a home or building with the intent to steal. Both theft and burglary involve intent to take another person’s money or possessions without permission, but there is usually no violence or threat of violence.


Often confused with theft and burglary, robbery is technically a crime against an actual person. Robbery involves taking money or other property from the owner by use of force, including violence and assault, or even the threat of violence and assault. Examples of robbery include assaulting someone to take their wallet.

Armed robbery

Robbery is defined as stealing by the use of force or the threat of force, but when guns or other weapons are involved, this crime is now classified as armed robbery. An example of armed robbery would be pulling a gun on a store clerk while demanding money or merchandise. Claiming or implying to be armed or acting in a way that would cause a regular person to think that there is a concealed weapon is also classified as armed robbery, even if there is no actual weapon. The same charges and penalties will apply if convicted.

Robbery by sudden snatching

Florida law also differentiates robbery by sudden snatching, in which property is stolen from an individual while they are aware of the stealing. An example of robbery by sudden snatch would be stealing a purse or bag off of an individual’s body and running away. Not to be confused with pickpocketing, robbery by sudden snatching happens with full knowledge of the victim involved, whereas pickpocketing happens secretly to keep the victim unaware.

The punishment for these crimes varies in Florida to account for the level of danger that was involved to another person. Theft and burglary involve no force or threat of force to an individual, while armed robbery and robbery by snatching are crimes committed against a person and typically include some level of violence.



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