I’m Accused of a Crime that Does Not Involve Theft. How Can I be Charged With Burglary?
By: Dave Mueller, Criminal Defense Attorney
When most people hear the term “burglary,” it conjures up a ready image in their minds. That image usually involves the skillful cat burglar making entry into a home or business, filling a bag with valuables and leaving. Under Pennsylvania law that type of action would in fact be considered a burglary. However, it is not uncommon in Pennsylvania for people to find themselves charged with the very serious offense of Burglary when no theft or attempt to commit theft is even alleged. Of course, understanding how the law applies to the facts of an individual case requires an in-person consultation with a criminal defense attorney. But, it is important to understand that the crime of burglary in Pennsylvania does not require a theft, or any intent to commit a theft, and the Commonwealth often pursues burglary charges for even relatively minor offenses attempted or committed while in the home or business of another.
In Pennsylvania, a person commits a burglary if that person enters a building or occupied structure, or separately occupied portion thereof, where that person is not licensed or privileged to enter, and with the intent to commit a crime therein. Put simply, a person who enters a building without permission, and intends to commit any crime inside of that building, commits a burglary. Importantly, this law does not require that the crime be successfully carried out, and does not limit the definition of “crime” in any way. A common example involves entering a building without permission with the intent to assault another person. A person accused of doing so in Pennsylvania could face charges of burglary, in addition to any charges related to the underlying crime. Depending on the circumstances, a burglary can be graded as high as a Felony of the 1st Degree, meaning that it could carry up to 20 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.
Where any allegation of burglary is involved, it is important to seek the help of an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. As with any crime, the Commonwealth bears the burden of proving all elements of this offense, and there are many legal nuances for an attorney to explore relating to the elements of burglary. Your attorney will understand that there are a range of defenses to burglary, and that the prosecution often seeks to prove its case based on circumstantial evidence of intent to commit a crime. Crafting a defense strategy in such cases requires skill and experience. Even if you may have done what the Commonwealth has alleged, your attorney may be able to identify issues that could mean the difference between a lesser offense and a very serious felony burglary.
If you are charged with burglary, or any other criminal offense in Pennsylvania, your freedom and future may be at stake. Call us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.