Some people may find the charges of “burglary” and “robbery” confusing, and they may even believe the terms are synonymous. However, in West Virginia, these are two distinct offenses, and the convictions come with different penalties.
According to the West Virginia Legislature, burglary is entering a home or other building on a residential property intending to commit a crime. The words “dwelling house” are used to refer to a home. In addition to traditional single-family dwellings, apartments, duplexes and other residential structures, the following are included under the law:
- Self-propelled motor home
- Factory-built or modular home
- Mobile home
- House trailer
A vehicle such as a passenger car is not considered a home, even if a person is living in it. However, a person does not currently have to be living in any dwelling when it is entered for the crime to be considered a burglary. Someone who is convicted of this felony may spend one to 15 years in prison.
Robbery is also a felony, according to the West Virginia Code, and the penalties are much more serious. A conviction of robbery in the first degree could result in a prison sentence of 10 to 25 years. Rather than involving property, robbery is a crime against a person. It is the act of threatening violence or harming someone in order to take something that belongs to someone else. The threat or harm could include a deadly weapon such as a gun, an electronic shock device such as a taser or a chemical substance such as mace.