Is there a difference between burglary and robbery charges in SC?
Burglary and robbery are two separate offenses, with different elements that the state must prove to get a conviction, different penalties, and different defenses that may be available at trial.
In this article, you will learn:
- The elements of robbery charges in SC,
- The elements of burglary charges in SC,
- The potential penalties for each charge, and
- The difference between burglary and robbery charges.
First, let’s take a look at the offenses of strong-armed robbery and armed robbery in SC.
The Basics of Robbery Charges in SC
Robbery means to take someone else’s property by force or intimidation. If there is no force or intimidation, the offense is larceny (grand larceny or petit larceny, depending on the value of the property taken).
There are two types of robbery charges under SC law – armed robbery and strong-armed (common law) robbery.
Strong-armed robbery charges are also referred to as “common law” robbery, because the offense is defined by case law instead of by statute, although there is a statute that makes the offense a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
So, what is strong-armed robbery? Essentially, it is a robbery where no weapon is used – the elements of the crime include:
- A taking by either force or intimidation…
- Of property…
- That belongs to someone else.
Strong-armed robbery requires the use of either force or intimidation to accomplish the theft, but it does not involve the use of a deadly weapon. Strong-armed robbery is considered a “lesser-included offense” of armed robbery because it includes all the elements of armed robbery except the use of a deadly weapon.
For an armed robbery conviction, the state must prove all the elements of strong-armed robbery – that you took someone else’s property by force or intimidation – plus either the use of a deadly weapon or the use of a representation of a deadly weapon.
The statute lists some examples of deadly weapons including:
- Dirk (a type of knife),
- Metal knuckles, and
This is not a complete list, though – any deadly weapon would qualify under the statute (rifle, shotgun, samurai sword, flamethrower…).
What if you just pretend to have a weapon when you commit the robbery?
If you put your hand in your jacket pocket and point with your finger so that it looks like you are pointing a gun at someone, for example, that would be a “representation of a deadly weapon” that qualified under SC’s armed robbery statute.
On the other hand, if you just say you have a deadly weapon, that is not armed robbery unless you also make some kind of “physical representation” that you have a weapon (pointing your finger through a jacket or using a realistic toy gun).
For example, in State v. Muldrow, the SC Supreme Court held that it was not armed robbery where a defendant handed a note to a clerk that said, “Give me all your cash or I’ll shoot you,” because there was no physical representation as required by the statute. In Muldrow, the defendant was still convicted of strong-armed robbery, but was not subject to the enhanced penalties of armed robbery.
What are the Penalties for Robbery in SC?
Armed Robbery is a felony offense, punishable by 10-30 years in prison – there is a mandatory minimum prison sentence of ten years and the least amount of time a person must serve even with all available credits at SCDC is seven years.
Strong-armed robbery is also a felony, but it carries a maximum sentence of 15 years with no mandatory minimum sentence.
|Felony or Misdemeanor
|Potential Prison Time
The Basics of Burglary Charges in SC
Burglary charges are different from robbery charges in SC. For example, burglary charges do not require a taking of property or the use of force. Another difference is that, unlike robbery charges, burglary charges require entry into a home or building.
To convict a person of burglary in SC, the state must prove that the person:
1. entered a building or dwelling,
2. without consent, and
3. with the intent to commit a crime in the building or dwelling.
The burglary may be first, second, or third degree depending on whether it was a building or dwelling and whether the state can prove aggravating circumstances.
Note that burglary in SC does not require forced entry – you could walk through an open door without permission and, if you intend to commit a crime inside (assault or theft, for example), that is burglary.
Burglary Third Degree
Third-degree burglary is where a person enters a building without consent, with the intent to commit a crime inside, and there are no aggravating circumstances.
What is a building?
It could be any structure, vehicle, or watercraft where:
- a person lives,
- where people assemble,
- or where goods are stored.
In most cases, burglary third-degree is charged where someone breaks into a storage building, a business, or another structure where people do not live and sleep.
Burglary Second Degree
There are two types of second-degree burglary in SC, that are defined in SC Code Sections 16-11-312 (A) and (B).
The first (A) is where a person enters a dwelling without consent, with the intent to commit a crime inside, and there are no aggravating circumstances.
A dwelling means a place where people live or that is “normally used for sleeping, living, or lodging by a person.”
The second, more serious type of second-degree burglary (B) is where a person enters a building without consent, with the intent to commit a crime inside, and there are aggravating circumstances.
It is essentially a third-degree burglary charge that is enhanced to second-degree because the state can prove one of the following aggravating circumstances:
- While entering, while inside, or while leaving, the defendant or a co-defendant was armed with a deadly weapon, caused physical injury to someone, used or threatened to use a deadly weapon, or displayed a knife or firearm;
- The defendant has two or more prior convictions for burglary or housebreaking; or
- The burglary happened in the nighttime.
Burglary First Degree
First-degree burglary can only be charged where someone enters a dwelling without consent and with the intent to commit a crime inside, and there are aggravating circumstances (see above).
It is essentially a second-degree burglary charge that is enhanced to first-degree burglary because the state can prove one of the aggravating circumstances listed above.
- Third-degree burglary involves a building. If there are aggravating circumstances, it becomes second-degree burglary (B);
- Second-degree burglary involves a dwelling. If there are aggravating circumstances, it becomes first-degree burglary.
What are the potential penalties for a burglary conviction in SC?
Penalties for Burglary Charges in SC
The potential penalties for each type of burglary charge in SC are broken down in the chart below:
|Felony or Misdemeanor
|Potential Prison Time
|Burglary third degree
|Five years or ten years for a second offense
|Burglary second degree (A)
|Burglary second degree (B)
|Burglary first degree
There is a difference between robbery charges and burglary charges in SC, but, in either case, you are facing the likelihood of prison time and a possible mandatory minimum sentence if you are convicted.
Charged with Robbery or Burglary in SC?
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