Many people believe these three offenses are similar. They are similar in terms of punishment. They’re also similar in that New York officials aggressively arrest and prosecute alleged robbers, thieves, and burglars.<[1] But in terms of everything else, they’re quite different. They apply to specific conduct and criminalize different types of behavior.

These offenses have something else in common. A Rochester criminal attorney for robbery can challenge the evidence in each one and obtain a favorable result in all of them, usually without going to trial. Especially if the defendant has no criminal record, and especially if the offense was basically a property offense, prosecutors are often willing to offer pretrial diversion. Alternatively, a Rochester criminal attorney for robbery could also obtain a not-guilty verdict at trial or arrange a plea bargain to a lesser included offense.

Theft Charges

Essentially, theft is taking property with the intent to deprive the owner of its full value. Shoplifting and failure to timely return rental property may be the two most common kinds of theft in New York.

Low-value, single-actor shoplifting cases used to be very common, especially in Monroe County. Now, most law enforcement agencies don’t respond to such calls. The value must be over a certain amount, usually $100. Higher-value, multi-actor cases are a lot harder to prove in court.

The owner must testify in court that the defendant deprived the owner of the full use of the property. In charging instruments, prosecutors often designate salespeople or even store security guards as owners. Most theft cases go to trial about a year after the alleged theft. By that time, the named owner is usually long gone.

Prosecutors can easily fix this error and designate someone else. However, that’s assuming they notice the issue.

Most U-Haul, Avis, and other property rental agencies usually impose high penalties on people who return property after the due date. However, many prosecutors hesitate to enforce these provisions in court. Such enforcement basically turns the state into a debt collector.

Robbery Charges

Under New York law, robbery is basically theft plus force or the threat of force. So, robbery is usually more serious than theft and burglary, which are essentially property crimes. Robbery is almost always a serious felony. Burglary and theft are typically less serious felonies or even misdemeanors.

Like theft, robbery requires a non-officer witness. Unlike theft, a robbery witness isn’t just a technical witness who can be replaced at the last minute. Instead, a robbery witness is vital to the case.

Unlike police officers, alleged robbery victims usually aren’t professional witnesses. A Rochester criminal attorney for robbery can often intimidate these witnesses. If witnesses change their stories even slightly, they often lose all credibility with a judge or jurors.

Additionally, the trauma these witnesses endure often affects their recollection. In one landmark study, an actor aggressively questioned a volunteer for about two hours. The next day, the volunteer couldn’t pick the actor out of a lineup.[2]

Evidence issues at trial often prompt prosecutors to make more favorable pretrial deals. As the risk of a not-guilty verdict increases, a Rochester criminal attorney for robbery obtain additional leverage.

Burglary Charges

Generally, burglary is breaking and entering with the intent to commit theft or a felony. So, a few burglary crimes are property-related. Most burglary offenses involve the violation of a protective order.

These crimes often involve more force than robbery. But that’s not always the case, especially in protective order violation cases. Frequently, estranged romantic partners have keys to the alleged victim’s residence. On a related note, some burglary cases are breaking-the-curtilage cases. Reaching into an open pickup bed and taking something out of it is a burglary in New York.

These crimes also often involve intent issues. If Phil breaks into Jim’s house to retrieve property Jim borrowed or to take something to satisfy a debt, Phil arguably didn’t have the required intent. Phil might be guilty of something, like criminal trespass. But he isn’t guilty of burglary.

A proposed plea to a lesser-included offense, like criminal trespass or criminal mischief, often appeals to prosecutors. The state doesn’t have to risk a trial, and the defendant is convicted of something.

Get Help from a Top Criminal Attorney for Robbery

There’s a big difference between a criminal arrest and a criminal conviction. Contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi for a free consultation with an experienced Rochester criminal attorney for robbery. Convenient payment plans are available.





The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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