Shoplifting, Robbery, Burglary, and Mugging Charges: What is the difference?

Shoplifting, Robbery, Burglary, and Mugging Charges: What is the difference?

Criminal law is applied to conduct that is seen as putting the property, safety, and welfare of others at risk. Examples of crimes that fall under criminal law are shoplifting, robbery, burglary, and mugging. These four may seem very similar in that they are all related to the taking of another person’s property. However, these have distinct definitions that set them apart from one another.

Below, we give you a brief explanation of each.


Shoplifting is the possession or concealment of goods that are being sold in a business establishment without the intention of purchasing said goods. Some supporting evidence includes demeanor while in the store and insufficient funds. It may also be a crime when one keeps the goods out of the store owner’s sight. These three may establish intent for a person being accused of shoplifting.

Shoplifting is differentiated from larceny and other acts of theft. The crime of shoplifting involves the taking of property that is particularly from a place of business. Note, however, that if a store wrongfully accuses anyone of shoplifting, they will in turn face their own charges.


Robbery is the theft of personal property from an individual, with the perpetrator having the intention of taking away possession from its rightful owner. There must be a lack of consent, an intention to steal, and direct removal from the individual’s person or immediate presence.

Robbery also involves a certain degree of violence or intimidation. It is set apart from larceny, which is generally considered to be nonviolent theft, making the penalty for robbery more severe in comparison. The property in issue must be under the victim’s control such that had there not been violence or intimidation, the theft could have been prevented. The force used must be enough for the property to transfer possession to the offender.

Apart from direct violence, the offender may also induce fear, threaten, intimidate, or use demonstrations of force so as to prevent the victim from resisting the theft. Moreover, so long as the robber was in possession of the property, regardless if it was abandoned, it is still considered a robbery.


Burglary pertains to criminal trespassing or unauthorized entry into another individual’s private property. Initially, burglary requires entrance into a place of habitation but has since been updated to any enclosed structure.

While inside the premises, there must be intent to steal for the crime to be considered a burglary. This intention, regardless if the taking of property was successful or not, is what makes a simple trespassing case into burglary.

It is also still considered burglary even if the breaking and entering occurred without sneaking in or using force. Misrepresenting your identity or going through an unattended entrance satisfies the element of trespassing.


Mugging is robbing by force or threat. This involves being physically attacked, being threatened enough for the victim to be rendered unable to retaliate. It is very similar to the lawful definition of a robbery such that there must an unauthorized intention to take possession of the victim’s property, and there is a use of force and intimidation. What makes a mugging distinct from a robbery is that this takes places in a public place and is usually out in the street.

Have you or someone you know been accused of any of the above crimes? Broward Criminal Lawyer is here to help ensure you are represented. Book an appointment today and let us discuss the facts of your case. We offer free consultations.