Burglary is a really loaded term that people associate with theft, but do you really understand what it is? If you or someone you love is facing a burglary charge, it’s important to understand the differences between each type of burglary and what the consequences are.
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There are four types of burglary designated by degrees. With the exception of fourth-degree burglary, which is a misdemeanor, the first three are all considered felonies. It is important to note that there is a slight difference in how state laws categorize burglary, but it is a crime in all states and can come with serious penalties.
What is Burglary?
The term refers to the criminal offense of breaking and entering into a building illegally in order to commit a crime. This broad definition can apply to many specific situations, even including shoplifting! The degree to which someone can be charged simply boils down to a few different factors that can be proven about the circumstances in which the crime was committed.
First-degree burglary is the most serious of the four burglary charges and can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. This type of burglary generally involves unlawfully entering or staying in a building with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property within. If you assault anyone or are armed with a deadly weapon when entering or leaving the building, you can be charged with first-degree burglary.
The main difference here is that second-degree burglary refers to unlawfully entering a building (a home or business) unarmed to commit theft or violence. This type of burglary can earn you a sentence of up to 3 years in prison. However, sentencing varies depending on several factors including:
- Prior convictions
- The crime committed after entering the building or structure
- Evidence presented
Simply breaking and entering into a building unlawfully is enough to be charged with third-degree burglary. Generally, the act of stealing does not take place because the person has been caught before stealing. In other words, intent to steal after unlawfully breaking and entering is enough. Third-degree burglary also applies where theft was not the intent (in domestic cases, for example). The punishment for this type of burglary is generally up to 10 years in prison.
Of all the burglary charges, this is the only one that is considered a misdemeanor. It involves stealing from areas connected to homes and business or areas that are fenced in. Sometimes, unlawfully breaking and entering into a yard even without the intent to commit crime is enough to be charged with fourth-degree burglary. The prison sentence can be up to three years.
Representation for Burglary Charges
In order to be convicted of burglary, the prosecutor has to provide sufficient evidence of your intent to commit a crime when you entered the structure. You should also have adequate defense to your burglary charges.
If you are charged with any of these burglary charges, you will need a good, experienced and professional criminal defense attorney on your side. A good lawyer will fight for you and your legal rights. At Marciano Law, we will provide legal representation and aggressively fight for the dismissal of your charges. Contact us today if you are in need of legal representation.