The Association Between Differential Association Theory and Burglary

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This paper will provide an explanation into how differential association theory explains burglary. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) considers burglary a Type 1 Index Crime because of its potentially violent nature. The FBI breaks burglary down into three sub-classifications. This paper discusses the elements of the crime of burglary and what constitutes a structure or dwelling. It will discuss a brief history of the deviance, trends, rates, and how it correlates to the specific theory that this paper will also discuss. Differential association theory best explains the burglary deviance. There are many principles associated with this type of social learning theory. Edwin Sutherland’s theory discusses how crime is a learned…show more content…
Friedman notes a case in North Carolina in 1849 involving a slave and his slave master, James McNatt. Friedman mentions how the slave ran to his master’s house and falsely informed him that his mother’s plantation was on fire. McNatt took off down the road and left his wife, child, and young servant girl in the house with the door unlocked. The slave waited a few minutes, went in, demanded money, and threatened the wife. The slave, captured, charged, and eventually convicted of burglary, won on appeal as the appellate court overturned the ruling saying that the physical act of breaking never occurred. This particular case marked a significant distinction of the law during the Common Law era (Friedman, 1993). Modern-day society’s definition of burglary is quite different than the one under common law, although, both include the entry into a structure or dwelling. The FBI defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft (FBI, 2010). However, the use of force to gain entry is not necessarily an element of the crime. The Uniformed Crime Reports (UCR) breaks burglary down into three sub-classifications; forcible entry, unlawful entry without the use of force, and attempted forcible entry. There have been more modern changes to the law to encompass all forms of attempted and unlawful entry: entry by trick or coercion, concealment, entering by false pretenses, and conspiracy are all now part of burglary.

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