The terms burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably in everyday life, movies and television. However, these terms have very different legal definitions under Minnesota’s criminal code. When a character in a television series comes home from vacation to find their house torn apart and all of their valuables missing, they often exclaim that they have been robbed. But in light of the legal definition of the term robbery, it would be more accurate to state that they had been burgled.

Under Minnesota law, robbery is a felony offense that most often occurs when a person steals an item from another and uses force, or the threat of imminent use of force, to overcome the person’s resistance to, or to compel acquiescence in, the taking of the property. Aggravated robbery, which carries greater potential penalties, occurs when a person possesses a dangerous weapon while committing the robbery, or implies that they have a dangerous weapon, regardless of whether they actually possess such a weapon.

Examples of simple robbery include a mugger who runs up to a citizen, punches them in the face and then takes their wallet. Aggravated robbery includes a person who points a gun at a woman before demanding she hand over her purse. Even if this person just had his hand in his coat pocket, pointed it around as though it was a gun and told people it was a gun in order to accomplish the taking of property, he could still face aggravated robbery charges due to his actions and words implying that he had a dangerous weapon.


Burglary, on the other hand, is a much broader crime that does not necessarily require that a theft take place. In Minnesota, burglary occurs when a person enters a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime. Burglary can also occur when a person enters a building without consent and commits a crime while in the building, regardless of whether they intended to commit a crime at the time they entered. This means that unauthorized entry into a building to commit any crime, not just theft, can potentially result in burglary charges.

There are varying degrees of burglary and varying potential consequences depending on what type of building is entered, whether anyone else is present in the building, and what level and type of crime is committed therein.

Regardless of their differences, both robbery and burglary are serious crimes that require a serious defense. If you, or a loved one, are facing a criminal charge of any kind, contact The Law Office of John J. Leunig at 952-540-6800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a free consultation. The lawyers at The Law Office of John J. Leunig provide vigorous, intelligent and personalized representation to people accused of crimes in State and Federal courts.

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