Burglary is the unlawful entry into a building in order to commit an offense. While burglary is commonly thought of as theft, theft does not have to occur for the incident to be considered burglary. Any crime that is committed following illegal entry into a building can incur a burglary charge. There is usually no victim present during a burglary.
Burglary is meant to protect the sanctity of a person’s home and prevent others from entering without permission. Breaking and entering is not necessary for an offense to be considered burglary. Trespassing by walking through an open door can be enough to receive a burglary charge if an offense is committed following the illegal entry.
The charge of burglary has evolved over time. When first defined, burglary was breaking into a dwelling at night with the intention of committing a larceny or other crime. The charge has evolved so that it is not necessary that the burglary take place at night in order to warrant charges, nor is it necessary that the building be broken into. The definition of dwelling has also changed to include any type of building, not limited to private residences.
Details of Incident
Burglary charges may vary depending on the details of the incident. Burglaries can encompass a broad range of activity, and charges may vary according to the severity of the activity. If an individual is found to have broken into a structure forcefully and stolen property with a weapon in possession, it is often a felony charge. If a person was in the building at the time of the burglary, the felony may increase in severity, especially if the burglar intended to harm the individual. If an individual enters a building unlawfully with the intention of committing a crime, but does not commit the crime, it is still a felony but may warrant lesser charges.
Possession of Burglary Tools
Having tools that are identified as burglary tools can warrant a misdemeanor charge. The identification of the tools as burglary tools relies heavily on the circumstances in which the defendant is found, as burglary tools may be used for legal purposes as well. Intent to use the tools for burglary must be proven with evidence such as surveillance videos or testimony of witnesses that can place the defendant in a scenario where the intention of burglary is likely.
If found in possession of the following tools, an individual may be charged with possession of burglary tools in certain instances:
- Lock pick
- Slim Jim
- Masks, gloves, and other clothing used to conceal identification or fingerprints
- Explosives or dynamite
- Torches and other tools that may be used to force entry through heavy materials
Orlando Burglary Defense Lawyers
The best defense against a burglary charge depends on the situation. If a defendant is charged with possession of burglary tools, but the defendant actually had no intention of committing burglary, the best defense may be to simply plead innocence. Prosecution will have to provide evidence that suggests that burglary was the intention. A defense attorney may still be able to discredit this evidence.
Intent to Commit Burglary
The intent to commit burglary is often determined based on the way the defendant was dressed during the incident, whether the defendant possessed tools that could be used to commit a burglary, and the defendant’s relation or lack of relation to the building where the incident took place. The time of day may be considered when assessing the defendant’s intention, as in the case of a business that is closed or a home where all occupants are sleeping or absent. If a defendant can show evidence of legitimate reasons for factors that seem to show the intent to commit burglary, the charges may be dismissed.
Hiring a Defense Attorney
Following a burglary charge, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney. A defendant may inadvertently provide information which strengthens a prosecution’s case if an experienced attorney is not present during interviews. Even in the case of innocence, defendants may accidentally say something which can be detrimental to a defense. A criminal defense attorney will be able to provide advice and assistance that will prevent this type of error and work to lessen or eliminate burglary charges.
“Burglary.” FBI. FBI, 29 July 2013. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/property-crime/burglary>
“Burglary Law.” – HG.org. HG.org, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.hg.org/burglary.html>
Christopher, Reinhart. “Burglary Statutes.” Burglary Statutes. State of Connecticut General Assembly, 22 Aug. 2007. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/rpt/2007-R-0505.htm>