Iowa Robbery Laws vs. Iowa Burglary Laws

Recently, I wrote about Iowa theft laws.  Now, I will explain how Iowa law defines Robbery and Burglary.  Recently, the Des Moines Register reported about several robberies in the area. Robbery is different from burglary.

Some people believe that the terms “robbery” and “burglary” mean the same thing.  Others believe that they are different but aren’t quite sure what that difference is.  In this post, I will provide a general overview Robbery and Burglary offenses and the difference between the two.


A robbery involves a person committing a theft and in the course thereof, does one of the following:

  • assaults someone
  • threatens serious injury or places another in fear of serious injury
  • threats to commit a forcible felony

The formal definition of Robbery is found in Iowa Code Section 711.1:

 A person commits a robbery when, having the intent to commit a
      theft, the person does any of the following acts to assist or further
      the commission of the intended theft or the person's escape from the
      scene thereof with or without the stolen property:
         1.  Commits an assault upon another.
         2.  Threatens another with or purposely puts another in fear of
      immediate serious injury.
         3.  Threatens to commit immediately any forcible felony.
         It is immaterial to the question of guilt or innocence of robbery
      that property was or was not actually stolen.


Burglary occurs when a person enters an occupied structure with the intent to commit a felony therein.  The formal definition of Burglary is found in Iowa Code Section 713.1:

 Any person, having the intent to commit a felony, assault or theft
      therein, who, having no right, license or privilege to do so, enters
      an occupied structure, such occupied structure not being open to the
      public, or who remains therein after it is closed to the public or
      after the person's right, license or privilege to be there has
      expired, or any person having such intent who breaks an occupied
      structure, commits burglary.

According to Iowa Code Section 702.12, an “occupied structure” is any building, structure, appurtenances to buildings and structures, land, water or air vehicle, or similar place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons, or occupied by persons for the purpose of carrying on business or other activity therein, or for the storage or safekeeping of anything of value. A structure is an “occupied structure” regardless of whether any other person is actually present therein.

An apartment, a closed grocery store, a house are all occupied structures. A structure open to the public is not an occupied structure. In that case, if a person enters say a store, and threatens a clerk with a gun, that person commits a Robbery.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call Stowers & Sarcone today at (515) 224-7446. Protect your rights! Act now!