Burglary is the crime of entering into a structure without permission with the intent to commit another crime once inside. A perpetrator could be convicted of the crime even if they did not use force to break into the structure. However, the structure must be entered without the permission of the owner.
In Nevada, the other crime that the person entering must intend to commit once inside the structure must be one of the following:
- Any Nevada felony offense,
- Battery; or
- Obtaining money by false pretenses if the structure is a residence.
The crime of home invasion must involve a structure used as a residence, even if it is not a standard single-family dwelling. Burglary, on the other hand, involves entry into any building or vehicle, whether used as a dwelling or not.
Home invasion must involve forced entry. Forced entry might involve using a crowbar to open a window or using a weapon and the threat of force to make an occupant allow a person to enter.
Someone might be convicted of burglary even if they did not break and enter a structure by using force. But if the perpetrator did use a firearm or other deadly weapon in the commission of the crime, burglary is always a category B felony in the state of Nevada. This is true if the perpetrator used a deadly weapon at any time or before they left the structure or motor vehicle.
In other words, a perpetrator may not have had a firearm when they entered a structure, but if they find and take one while inside, the burglary would be a category B felony. If the crime involved the use of a deadly weapon, the penalties include 2 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Are Burglary and Home Invasion the Same Crime in Nevada?
While many states incorporate home invasion into their burglary statutes, Nevada separates the two crimes. In Nevada, burglary can be committed on a commercial or residential property. Home invasion cannot be committed on commercial property. It can only be committed on residential property.
For example, suppose a waitress decides to enter the restaurant where she works at night while it is closed. She knows where the safe is, and that money is kept in it overnight. She intends to steal any money she finds in the safe. She enters by forcing open a door.
After entering, however, she thinks the better of it. She thinks about what might happen to her if she is caught and that it is not worth any amount of money she might steal. So, she decides to go home and ask her parents to lend her some money instead.
If the waitress is caught and arrested on her way out of the restaurant, she can still be charged with burglary because she intended to commit larceny at the time when she entered the building. The fact that she never committed the larceny does not mean she did not commit the crime of burglary.
The waitress could not be guilty of a home invasion for her crime because the building is a commercial structure and not a dwelling.
What Is the Crime of Home Invasion?
Home invasion is forcibly entering an inhabited property without consent from the owner or occupant. It does not matter whether the property is occupied at the time of the entry. If the structure or property is used as a dwelling, forcibly entering is the crime of home invasion.
Unlike the crime of burglary, the perpetrator does not need to intend to commit another crime inside the home to be guilty of home invasion. However, unlike burglary, the crime of home invasion requires force to enter the property.
A “dwelling ” for the purposes of home invasion can be any of the following as long as a person lives in it:
- A structure of any kind, e.g., house, room, apartment;
- A tent;
- A boat;
- A motor vehicle;
- A house trailer;
- A recreational vehicle;
- A motor home; or
- A railroad car.
Is It Home Invasion If the Property Was Abandoned at the Time of the Break-In?
The crime of forcibly entering a property would not be home invasion if the property was abandoned when the person forcibly entered. Even if the property was once a residence, if it is abandoned at the time of the forcible entry, the entry is not a home invasion. Instead, a person can be charged with burglary or criminal trespass.
What Is Trespass?
Criminal trespass occurs when a person enters or remains on property belonging to someone else without that person’s permission. In Las Vegas, the crime is most often committed when the patrons of gambling casinos refuse to leave when ordered to do so by security guards.
Trespassing is a misdemeanor and not a felony like home invasion. The punishment is a term of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00. Again, home invasion is a possible punishment of 1 to 10 years in state prison.
Because trespass is a relatively minor, non-violent crime, judges reportedly do not impose jail time for a first offense. However, someone guilty of a second or subsequent trespass is more likely to face jail time.
Will I Go to Prison If I Am Convicted of Home Invasion in Nevada?
If a person is convicted, prison time is a possible punishment. Invading a home is a category B felony in Nevada. The punishment is as follows:
- One to 10 years in prison;
- A $10,000 fine;
- Prison time and a fine.
If the perpetrator used a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime, then the potential sentence is as follows:
- Two to 15 years in prison;
- A $10,000 fine;
- A fine and prison time.
What Is the Punishment for Burglary?
The punishment for burglary is as follows:
- Imprisonment for from 1 to 10 years, depending on the type of structure the person entered;
- A maximum fine of $5,000 to $10,000, again, depending on the type of structure entered.
Are There Any Defenses to Home Invasion?
There are some possible defenses to home invasion, and they are as follows:
- The perpetrator had permission to enter;
- The perpetrator did not use force to enter the premises;
- The structure was not a dwelling.
The prosecution must prove that the perpetrator is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction. The defendant is responsible for proving a defense.
What Kind of Plea Agreements Are Possible?
Depending on the facts of a specific case, it may be possible to negotiate a plea agreement in which the perpetrator would plead guilty to a trespass charge. Another option, explained below, is to plead guilty to a lesser offense that cannot lead to deportation.
Can I Be Deported If I Am Convicted of Home Invasion?
Whether conviction of home invasion can lead to deportation is not clear. What is clear is that if the defendant had a firearm, a court is more likely to classify “invasion of the home” as an aggravated felony. This is a class of criminal offenses that can lead to deportation.
It is important that undocumented aliens who have been charged with a criminal offense consult a Nevada criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can try to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors that would involve pleading guilty to an offense that would not lead to deportation.
Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer for My Home Invasion Charge?
If you are facing a home invasion charge, you will need a professional lawyer’s help to defend yourself effectively in court. Contact a Nevada criminal defense lawyer immediately to help you with your home invasion charge.
Your lawyer can determine whether any defenses are available to you based on the facts of your case. Also, your lawyer can find out if a plea agreement can help you avoid the worst consequences of a conviction for home invasion.