Theft, Burglary & Robbery: Is There a Difference?

While the results may seem the same, theft, burglary, and robbery are different actions that result in different consequences.


In Tennessee, a theft crime occurs if a person takes the belongings of another without their permission and without the intent to return it.

Theft is a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is under $500. However, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $500, it becomes a felony. For example, if someone steals a sports car worth more than $120,000, they could be charged with a Class A felony and may face a prison sentence of 15 to 16 years and/or fines worth up to $50,000.


A burglary is when someone enters another person’s property without their knowledge or consent and with the intent to commit a crime.

Theft does not necessarily need to take place during a burglary. For instance, a person can trespass on a property or enter a structure with the intent to commit assault. If a person is charged with burglary, they could be convicted of a Class D felony and sentenced to 2 to 12 years in prison, probation, and/or fines worth up to $5,000.


A robbery is when a person uses violence or threat of violence during the theft of property. For this reason, robbery carries the most severe penalties.

The automatic penalty for robbery is a Class C felony and can land an offender in prison for 3 to 15 years, with fines worth up to $10,000. If the violence includes a deadly weapon, the act is classified as aggravated robbery, which is a Class B felony. The penalties for this action include a prison sentence of 15 to 60 years and/or fines worth up to $50,000.

Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorneys

At Patton | Pittman, our criminal defense lawyers understand the severity of a conviction. For this reason, we will do everything we can to aggressively advocate for your rights and create a strong legal defense that reduces your penalties.

Call our firm today at (931) 361-4477 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.

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