PA Criminal Law Topic of the Week: Theft v. Robbery

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We often get calls from potential clients asking us to represent them in Pittsburgh criminal cases and the first piece of information we need to get from them is what charges they are facing. Very often when it is a crime against property, clients often ask us what the difference between theft and robbery is and why they were charged with one and not the other. Since the question comes up quite often, in today’s blog the Western Pennsylvania Criminal Law Attorneys provide you with a breakdown of the differences.

The first thing you need to know is that theft is a lesser included charge of robbery. That means that robbery is a more serious offense and that you can be charged with only one of the two, not both. If you are found guilty of robbery, you can’t also be found guilty of theft and vice versa. Under Pennsylvania law, the main distinguishing element between the two is harm or threat of harm.

With regards to movable property, like a purse or wallet, PA law states that a person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another with intent to deprive him of it. When it comes to immovable property, such as a home, a person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully transfers, or exercises unlawful control over, the property of another or any interest therein with intent to benefit himself or another not entitled to it.

An individual is guilty of robbery if during the commission of a theft, the defendant injures someone, threatens them with injury, commits any first or second degree felony, or physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force. The element of force in this crime, even if it is just a threat or the slightest push, is what makes it more severe under Pennsylvania statutes.

If you have been accused of either the crime of theft or robbery in Western Pennsylvania, contact our PA Criminal Lawyers at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates. Our team of attorneys will work with you throughout your case and make sure that your rights are respected.