A burglary is when a person enters a building with the intent to commit a crime, unless the premises are open to the public at the time of entry. Most burglaries are when someone breaks into a building with the intent to steal something inside. However, if a person enters any building for the purpose of committing any crime, even if the crime never takes place, a burglary can be charged.
Burglary is a major felony and a conviction will mean incarceration in either a county jail or state prison. A person convicted of a burglary will also be responsible for any restitution for property taken or damage caused during the course of the burglary. It’s vitally important that the attorney representing a person convicted of a burglary carefully scrutinizes any claim for restitution or property damage. Many times, the defense attorney and prosecutor will agree on an amount for restitution. If an agreement can’t be reached on restitution or property damage, the defense attorney must petition the court for a “Restitution Hearing.” Otherwise, the defendant will be court ordered to pay the amount requested by the victim, whether the amount claimed is legitimate or not.
There are different degrees of seriousness of burglary. It matters if the building was a home, business, or an abandoned building. If the building was a home, it matters if anyone was present at the time and if it was at night.
A defense to burglary is that the person who entered the building was actually allowed to enter inside. A person can’t be guilty of burglary if the person was permitted or authorized to be in the building. Another defense is that the person who entered the building never intended to commit a crime while inside the building. The Commonwealth must be able to show that once inside the building, the person committed or planned to commit a crime such as a theft or criminal mischief.
Sometimes the charge of burglary can be reduced to the charge of criminal trespass, a lesser charge where incarceration may be avoided. Burglary can also sometimes be reduced to theft or receiving stolen property.
If you have been charged with burglary or are being investigated for a burglary, call or email us and we will be happy to review your case.