As the most egregious of burglary offenses with the harshest punishment, first-degree burglary is a serious felony that can come with a lengthy prison sentence. In short, the charge is for unlawfully entering any home, business or property with the intent to commit a crime. Although it is considered a felony in every state, each one has its own definitions and punishments for conviction.
What Constitutes First-Degree Burglary?
In most cases, first-degree burglary involves a deadly weapon such as a knife or gun. However, it does not always involve theft of items from a dwelling, business or property. If you illegally enter a home or business with the intent to commit a crime murder or rape, for example—you will be charged with first-degree burglary. In some states, the only difference between first- and second-degree burglaries is the possession of a dangerous weapon while committing the crime.
How Long is the Prison Sentence for First-Degree Burglary?
If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. However, each state is different. For instance, according to Legalmatch.com, sentencing in New York for first-degree burglary ranges from 1-25 years. FindLaw states that sentencing in Illinois for this degree of burglary can be 15 years in prison.
In addition to a prison sentence, some States also require a fine, which can amount to $25,000.
Possible Defenses for First-Degree Burglary
- Insufficient Evidence. If the prosecutor fails to provide sufficient evidence that you committed the crime, you cannot be convicted.
- Mistaken Identity. In the chaos of the moment, victims of burglary sometimes fail to identify the perpetrator correctly. This mostly happens when the crime takes place in the dark or if the offender is wearing a mask. In this case, the criminal defense attorney will try to convince the court that you are innocent owing to the fact that the crime took place in a poorly lit location. They will also try to establish doubt that the perpetrator was correctly identified.
- Lack of Intent. To be charged with first-degree burglary, you must have had the intent to commit the crime when you entered the structure. The prosecution must prove this.
- Ownership/Reclaiming Your Possessions. If you entered the commercial or residential structure to claim what is rightfully yours, you generally cannot be guilty of burglary. However, your criminal defense attorney must be able to prove this in order to avoid conviction of the crime.
You may even be able to build a defense around your circumstances in order to pursue a lesser burglary charge.
If you find yourself facing charges of first-degree burglary in Nevada, call a burglary attorney immediately to get representation for your case. Marchiano Law Corp has experience spanning 35 years in Nevada courts and can help you get the results you need. Contact us today to get help with your burglary charge or any other legal issues.