While robbery and burglary in New Jersey are often used interchangeably, they are punished differently under New Jersey law. Robbery is considered a violent crime, while burglary is usually a non-violent crime. In New Jersey, robbery is defined as stealing from another person using force or threat, while in the course of the theft. Robbery may be classified as an aggravated theft, and can be distinguished from theft by its violent nature. A theft may turn into robbery if during the course of the theft, the actor threatens bodily harm, places the victim in fear of impending harm, or uses force to inflict bodily injury. An individual may be convicted of a robbery even if no property was actually obtained in the course of the act.
Robbery is usually a second-degree crime, but under certain circumstances, may become a first-degree crime. If during the course of the robbery, an individual attempts to kill, inflict serious bodily injury, or make a threat using a deadly weapon, the robbery charge may become a first-degree crime. A first-degree robbery charge imposes a 10 to 20 year sentence. Most robbery charges are second-degree crimes, however. Under a second-degree criminal charge, you may face between 5 to 10 years in prison and be forced to pay a $150,000 fine.
Carjacking is also considered a form of robbery. An individual who has taken another’s vehicle through the use of force, or threat of force, may be convicted of a first-degree crime. If you are convicted of carjacking, the minimum sentence is 5 years in jail. If the carjacking is classified as a first-degree offense, you may face up to 30 years in jail.
In New Jersey, burglary is the unlawful entry into a dwelling or structure for the purpose of committing a crime while inside. A burglary does not have to involve the actual breaking and entering into a dwelling. Rather, establishing a trespass is typically sufficient to prove burglary. It is also not necessary to prove theft in order to bring a burglary charge. Like robbery, the actor does not have to be successful in the burglary attempt to be charged with the crime. For example, if you break into a building but do not steal anything, you can still be charged with burglary.
Burglary is typically charged as a third-degree crime, but under certain circumstances, may be charged as a second-degree crime. A second-degree burglary charge may arise if the actor is visibly carrying a deadly weapon. In addition, if the actor intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicts serious bodily harm while in the course of the burglary, the crime can be charged as a second-degree. Depending on the degree, a burglary charge may impose a jail sentence of 3 to 10 years and up to $150,000 in fines.