In New Jersey, the terms “robbery” and “burglary” are often incorrectly treated as synonymous. However, under New Jersey law these are separate crimes with distinct elements. As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we often run into clients who don’t understand why they have been charged with robbery and burglary in connection with the same incident. In this article, we will explain the nuances involved in robbery and burglary offenses in New Jersey and what the State needs to prove to obtain a conviction for these charges.
Understanding Robbery vs. Burglary under NJ Law
To prove a defendant is guilty of the crime of robbery in New Jersey, the prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that while committing a theft, the defendant caused bodily injury or used force on another person, threatened or purposely caused a person to be in fear of bodily injury, or committed or threatened to immediately commit any first or second degree crime.
In New Jersey, robbery is a second degree crime and can carry a sentence of 5-10 years of imprisonment and a $150,000 fine.
On the other hand, a person is guilty of burglary in the third degree under New Jersey law if they enter or remain in a research facility or structure, at a time when the property is not open to the public, without permission and with the intent to commit an offense on the property.
The potential penalties for burglary are significant. Individuals found guilty of burglary in the third degree can face 3 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000.
If an individual engages in the actions described above and also purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly attempts to or threatens to cause bodily injury on anyone or is armed with a deadly weapon or displays what looks like a deadly weapon, they are guilty of burglary in the second degree, which carries penalties of up to 10 years of imprisonment and a $150,000 fine.
Can I be convicted of both robbery and burglary in New Jersey?
Robbery and burglary are distinct crimes with different elements and a person can be convicted of both in New Jersey.
Consider a hypothetic situation like this: in an effort to steal money from another person’s bank account, a defendant used force to kidnap the person and/or purposely caused them fear of bodily injury. These facts, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, could support a robbery conviction. In addition, the suspect may also be guilty of burglary in the third degree if they entered the home of the victim clearly without permission, with the intent to commit an offense. If a jury finds that they threatened to cause bodily injury to anyone or were armed with a deadly weapon, the suspect may be found guilty of burglary in the second degree.
Burglary Lawyers in Union County, New Jersey
If you have been charged with robbery, burglary, or both, contact our experienced Union County criminal defense lawyers to review your case and fight to protect your rights. One of the defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver is available to provide you with a free consultation about your charges. Simply call (908) 838-0150 for more information or contact us online today.