The Crime of Burglary

Burglary

The crime of Burglary
 is the unlawful entry into an enclosed structure with the intent to commit a a felony. If the structure being entered is a place of residence, this is prosecuted as a residential 
burglary. If the building is a commercial structure, this is called 
a commercial burglary. Unlike the crime of robbery, which requires the use of force or threat of force upon another to steal the property, burglary is a covert crime where the victim is either asleep or not present.

The Entry – Legal Significance

The
 crime of burglary occurs upon the entry into the structure. Breaking in by force is no longer a required element of the crime. The essential feature of burglary is 
the intent of the person to enter the structure. If the 
person intends to steal or commit any felony as he enters, and does so, the 
crime is defined as a burglary. It is not necessary that the felony or theft 
be completed; only that it was intended to be completed when entry was made. (Although 
the prosecutor may have a difficult time proving the defendants
 intent if the crime was not completed since the necessary intent to commit the crime can be argued by a seasoned defense lawyer to relate back to the original entry)

Identity
 of a burglary suspect is often proved using fingerprints which are usually 
found at the point of entry or around the area where the actual theft took place.

Defense To Burglary 

A
 common defense to burglary is that the suspect had
 a legitimate reason for being in the area. (Remember, it is impossible to know how long a fingerprint has been on
 the surface when it is lifted for forensic examination.) The suspect may have been a handyman who had done
 some work on the house four months prior. Another
 defense to burglary is lack of intent upon entry. Example -
”I did not break into the house to steal. I was only looking 
for a place to get out from the cold.”

Penalty – First Degree Burglary

Each state sets its own specific range of penalties for crimes committed in the state. Notwithstanding, assuming there are no mitigating factors, (such minimal planning and premeditation, low value of item stolen, no criminal record, young age of defendant, etc.) the judge can impose the harshest sentence on the defendant, which is Burglary In The First Degree, if it involves aggravating factor, which is usually itemized by statute, such as the use of a weapon, injury to another, value of stolen property, premeditation, motive and/or a substantial criminal record. The average prison time for such a crime, under aggravated circumstances  ranges between five to fifteen years in state prison.

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