Burglary lawyers specialize in burglary law, specifically defense lawyers who defend clients accused of burglary allegations and related charges. The duty of a burglary is representation of clients guilty of felony charges and challenge the prosecution’s claim against the defendant of whether a client unlawfully entered a building or had the intent to commit a crime.
Burglary lawyers have comprehensive knowledge of burglary law and are able to decipher what may be considered grounds for burglary charges and what isn’t. Their interest is in protecting their client’s rights and ensuring justice for anyone wrongly accused of burglary.
What is Burglary Law?
Burglary law is a section of the law that deals solely with burglary charges and crimes. Most states will use the common law and model penal code definitions of burglary, which is: an unlawful breaking and entering into a structure with the intent of committing a crime.
This definition is carefully worded and specific, as all elements need to be true for there to be an accurate burglary charge.
- It must be an unlawful breaking, meaning that it has to be an entry into a home or business during either nighttime, outside of “store hours”, or simply without the owner’s consent.
- It must be a structure, which does not include a fence or gate, but the building itself.
- Intent to commit a crime, commit a felony, or commit a misdemeanor, must be proven.
If one of these factors is out of the equation, the charges could be lessened to a lower degree crime or perhaps dropped altogether.
Out of each of these elements, perhaps the trickiest one to deal when it comes to burglary cases is the matter of intent, and this is where most litigation is necessary, as the answer of “how to prove intent” varies from case to case and requires the expertise of a burglary defense lawyer.
Why Choose the Burglary Lawyers at Anderson & Ackerman Law Group?
If you have been wrongfully accused of burglary, consult with a defense lawyer for your burglary case immediately. Our lawyers here at Anderson & Ackerman have years of expertise in cases and trials involving burglary and unlawful entry.
We handle cases for hundreds of clients facing criminal charges including burglary allegations, and are prepared to fight with you during pre-trial and trial motions, and we may even get your case dismissed at preliminary hearings.
Burglary attorneys will need to open an investigation immediately if you are facing burglary allegations. Camera footage and witness testimony will be crucial for proving your alibi and your innocence, start planning your defense with us right away!
Types of Burglary
Before diving right into the legal proceedings, you may want to have an understanding of how burglary law works. Like most laws, there are varying types of degrees to which they can be tried and prosecuted. The following are the four degrees burglary is tried under:
- First-degree burglary: First-degree is the most severe degree of burglary that is punishable for up to 15 years in prison or longer. If the defendant is proven to have either been armed with a deadly weapon, physically harmed a victim or multiple victims, used or threatened to use a deadly weapon, or is a repeat offender, they can be charged with burglary in the first degree. First-degree burglary is more common in burglary cases involving residences that are homes and when someone is present in the house rather than commercial structures.
- Second-degree burglary: Second-degree burglary can be punishable to up to 10 years of imprisonment. If the defendant is proven to be armed, had aimed or threatened to use a weapon, caused injury, or is a repeat offender, they may be convicted of second-degree burglary. Some states charge second-degree burglary only if a victim was injured, while others apply this degree if the defendant was armed during the act of burglary.
- Third-degree burglary: Third-degree burglary sentences range between 1 to 5 years. If the defendant is proven to have entered the premises without consent, they are charged with unlawful entry and proven to have intended to commit a crime, they could be convicted of third-degree burglary. This is the most common degree of burglary found.
- Fourth-degree burglary: Fourth-degree burglary punishes up to a year in prison or a fine. Fourth-degree burglary is mostly concerned with the intent to commit a burglary and isn’t commonly applied in most states..
As mentioned, the laws in each state vary. In Pennsylvania, all burglary charges are graded as a felony and crime of violence.
What's the difference between burglary and robbery?
It is fairly common to see the terms theft, larceny, burglary, and robbery lumped together, but these do not all have the same definition.
Burglary deals much more with the intent of unlawfully breaking in and committing a crime on someone else’s property, as opposed to robbery which is associated more straightforwardly with the actions of theft or larceny.
Theft and larceny are used even more interchangeably. It may actually depend on the state whether a crime is considered one or the other or both. Some states consider larceny to be a subset of theft, while others may strictly use the term larceny rather than theft.
Robbery is also quite similar to theft, only it focuses more on the act of force or the threat of using force while stealing. For instance, stealing a bike while no one’s around is an act of theft that is considered petit larceny in most states, but threatening to use force against someone (such as threatening to shoot or harm them) or following through with those threats would be considered assault and robbery.
In many cases, theft is the umbrella term that encompasses much of this, but it still differs from burglary.
Burglary is actually closer to trespassing violations and illegally entering, with the difference being, again, the criminal intention that’s associated with burglary. And not just any criminal intention, but one that is up to the level of a felony charge. Burglary is especially serious in Pennsylvania, due to the fact that unlawfully entering someone’s residence is considered a crime of violence.
Say, for instance, an individual unlawfully enters a retail store. This could be done either outside of “store hours” when the doors are locked, or entering the property through an employee-only/emergency exit that is not allowed.
The intention of committing a felony of any kind, which covers a range of theft (such as shoplifting or larceny), robbery, fraud (such as using another individual’s credit card or ID without their consent) and more serious crimes like murder, rape, and assault.
So, there are many different angles to how this situation can be viewed, but the key differences are between the intent and the action. For reasons like this, it’s crucial to consult with the right lawyer who will have the expertise and knowledge to help you understand your rights and what you’re being charged with.
Penalties and Defenses for Burglary Charges
Charges for burglary can depend widely on whether or not the charges were for felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanors will normally be punished with shorter jail sentences and less severe fines, while felonies see more substantial prison sentences, especially for cases involving violence, murder, rape, assault, or if the felon is a repeat offender.
A first time offender guilty of a burglary crime may only be issued mandatory counseling or probation instead of additional jail time. Offenders may also be subject to court fines or compensating the victim.
Conviction for burglary can result in a felony record in most states. Felony records have life-long consequences because of difficulty finding employment, qualifying for housing, or certain licenses such as a driver’s license or firearms license.
So what kind of defense can burglary lawyers provide? The most common and often most useful angle for defending burglary allegations is lack of intent.
If it can be proven that there was no intent to commit a crime when entering a commercial or residential building or structure, the burglary charge could be dropped and the defendant could serve out a less.
A significant component of a burglary allegation is the unlawful entry. If the defendant had consent from the owners or from someone with authority, then that would eliminate the element of unlawful entry.
Consulting with a qualified criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense strategy that can win your case.
Need Legal Help? Contact A Burglary Defense Lawyer
At Anderson & Ackerman Law Group, you can find a burglary lawyer suited for your case. Our legal team is brimming with defense attorneys with a proven track record of winning pre-trial motions and winning trial motions before a judge and jury. We are experts at obtaining evidence that can help shed new light on a case, and help you reach a favorable verdict.
Schedule a free consultation and defense strategy session to discover how the right defense lawyer can serve you justice.