Burglary is the crime of breaking and entering into a structure, such as a home or a store, for the purpose of committing another crime. The entry must be unauthorized, but does not require the use of force. While burglary is often associated with theft, any unlawful entry for the purpose committing any crime, such as assault or rape, constitutes burglary.
What Are the Penalties for Burglary?
The consequences of burglary include:
Factors used to determine the severity of punishment for burglary include:
- Previous criminal record, including prior convictions for burglary
- Currently on probation
- The type of structure entered unlawfully
- Crime committed during unlawful entry
Is There Burglary If the Property Is Not a Building or Structure?
Most jurisdictions have ruled that “structure” or “property” need not refer to an actual building. Tents, cars or rooms may also fall be counted for purposes of illegal entry into a property. Texas even has a law for burglary of coin machines.
What If the Burglar Used an Object Instead of Entering to Commit the Crime?
The stereotypical burglary is a criminal lifting a window, entering the home himself and then committing his crime. However, it may still be burglary if the criminal lifts the window and uses a stick to bring a desired object to him (the crime here is theft). “Entry” thus does not refer to the criminal’s physical body but to any physical object used to commit the crime.
Is There Burglary If the Burglar Lives in the Property?
In most jurisdictions, it is impossible to commit burglary if you live in the building you are entering into. Note that the key word is living in the building. You do not have to be the owner of the property you are breaking and entering into to as long as you are living inside the property.
Is There Burglary If the Burglar Was Invited into the Property?
The answer will be different between jurisdictions. Some courts will hold that there was no burglary because the criminal had no intention of committing a crime. In those courts, the proper crime would be trespass. In other courts, the invitation was only for a specific purpose and burglary would still count against the criminal if the criminal intended to commit a crime. The distinction matters because burglary is almost always punished more harshly than trespass.
What Can You Do If You are Accused of Burglary?
If you are accused of burglary you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.
Victims of Burglary
If you are a victim of burglary you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will forward your case to the District Attorney's office to prosecute the person who committed the crime against you.