John W. Tumelty Logo



Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

View More Criminal Defense ResultsView More DWI Defense Results Free Consultation

The Differences Between Burglary, Theft, and Robbery

New Jersey criminal defense lawyer

There are a lot of misconceptions about property crimes and theft crimes in New Jersey. In fact, a lot of people mistakenly believe that burglary, theft, and robbery all constitute the same type of offense. The truth is that these are distinct criminal offenses and carry unique penalties under the NJ Criminal Code.

One reason that people might occasionally conflate burglary, theft, and robbery is that prosecutors often bring multiple charges against individuals accused of committing theft offenses. This can have the effect of resulting in lengthier prison sentences, especially if the judge orders that the sentences be served consecutively. Additionally, by bringing multiple criminal charges against the same defendant for a single theft offense, prosecutors gain leverage during plea negotiations. The best way to combat charges of burglary, theft, and robbery is to have a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side throughout the legal process.

N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2: Burglary Charges in New Jersey

It is important to keep in mind that burglary is a property offense, not a theft offense. In fact, a person can be charged with burglary even if they did not commit a theft. A person commits burglary in NJ when they enter a structure without license or permission to do so and have the intent to commit a crime. Although many burglars unlawfully enter premises with the intent to steal property, it is not necessary for prosecutors to show that the offender actually stole property.

In most circumstances, burglary is classified as a third degree felony. A conviction on third degree burglary charges could lead to a sentence of 3-5 years in New Jersey State Prison. However, when the offender threatened bodily injury or used a deadly weapon while committing the burglary, the charges can be upgraded to a second degree felony and the potential punishment can be a sentence of 5-10 years in prison.

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1: Theft Charges in New Jersey

Theft charges often accompany burglary charges because a person who breaks into a residence or vehicle may do so with the intent to steal property. (Other related charges can include shoplifting and auto theft.) A person commits theft in NJ when they unlawfully take, or exercise control over, movable property that belongs to another person.

The penalties for theft are determined by the value of the property stolen. If the property has a value of $75,000 or more, the theft charge is classified as a second degree felony and carries a penalty of 5-10 years in New Jersey State Prison. Even a petty theft of property valued at $200 is classified as a fourth degree felony and can lead to a sentence of 18 months in state prison.

N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1: Robbery Charges in New Jersey

Robbery is a special kind of theft that involves aggravating circumstances. Those circumstances can include:

·       The offender inflicted bodily injury or used force during the commission of the theft.

·       The offender threatened another person with immediate bodily injury or put another person in fear of immediate bodily injury during the commission of the theft.

·       The offender committed a first degree crime or a second degree crime during the commission of the theft.

Robbery is ordinarily classified as a second degree felony and can result in a sentence of 5-10 years behind bars. Additionally, when the offender used a deadly weapon like a handgun or a knife during the robbery, the charges can be elevated to a first degree felony and result in a sentence of 20 years in prison.


If you have been charged with burglary, theft, or robbery in Atlantic County, NJ, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your charges and avoid going to prison. Contact us immediately to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

Free Consultation

"*" indicates required fields