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What is the difference between theft and robbery?

If you are thinking about taking something that you believe is yours or that does not belong to you from someone else's home or car in Chicago, you could be committing theft or robbery. Both are crimes that can get you time behind bars, a criminal conviction and haunt you for the rest of your days. 

You may think that theft or robbery charges are the same, but they are not. They are two different crimes that carry separate penalties. It is important for you to know the difference between them so you have a better understanding of what you may be up against if you find yourself facing criminal charges. 

What is robbery? 

Robbery is when you violate the law and take something from someone else that is not legally yours by threat of or actual force. The victim does not necessarily have suffer an injury during the commission of the crime. Robbery can also occur when there is an element of threat, harm or intimidation used to take something from another person. For example, you rob a bank teller with a note threatening to hurt her if she does not give you money out of the vault. Another example of robbery is when you take something from another individual before/after hitting or knocking him or her down. 

What is theft? 

If you take something from another person's possession with the intent to keep it permanently, you are committing theft. You may hear courts refer to theft as larceny, embezzlement, petty and grand. For example, you break into a neighbor's home to take $300. Another example is you tell a friend you want to borrow his or her car. Instead, you take the car, leave town and refuse to give it back to your friend. 

The circumstances surrounding the crime determine if you will receive a misdemeanor or felony and additional criminal charges. It is possible for you to receive both types of charges in some cases. Both types of crimes carry penalties that include jail time, fines and restitution. Remember, the key difference between the two is intent to harm.

A good defense strategy can help improve the chances of you having these charges reduced or dismissed. If you end up facing criminal accusations for theft or robbery, consider speaking to an attorney for guidance.

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