Most people think about burglaries and robberies in the same way. You imagine someone breaking into a house or car. You might think about large items getting stolen or people getting hurt.

The reality is that these two terms do not mean the same thing. There are differences both in the legal consequences and types of crimes these are. Here’s what you should know about the two terms, so you can understand what exactly you’re being charged with.

Burglary: The less dangerous crime

To start with, burglary is the lesser of the two crimes. Burglary usually refers to the unlawful entry into a structure (like a business or home) with the intention to commit a theft or felony. Interestingly, someone can commit burglary if they enter a home or building that had its doors unlocked or if they fail to gain entry but make an attempt.

The prosecution has to prove that the person accused of burglary intended to commit a crime after they gained access. For example, someone who intends to steal jewelry from a home would be committing a burglary. Someone who enters the wrong home mistakenly may not have committed this crime.

Most burglaries are charged as misdemeanors, but some are charged as felonies.

Robbery: A serious charge

Robbery is more serious charge. A robbery is usually a felony, because it includes the use or threat of force or violence. For example, if someone attempts to enter a home and then threatens to harm anyone inside for calling the police, then they could be charged with robbery, if not other, even more serious, charges.

Remember that to prove a robbery charge, the prosecution has to show that the defendant took property directly from the others involved or used a threat to obtain access. Since this is a violent crime, you would think that a weapon would need to be present or actual harm would have to occur, but neither is true. A simple threat is enough to result in this charge.

Both of these charges can affect your life negatively. If you are accused, it’s in your best interests to build a defense.