Being arrested and charged with burglary can be a very scary experience. However, it’s important to note that in order for a court of law to find you guilty of burglary, the prosecution must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot do this, then you may not get convicted.
Unauthorized entry into the said structure
Firstly, the prosecution must prove that you entered a structure without permission. This could be a home, office, or even a vehicle. If the owner of the building knew about your presence in the structure, then you may not get charged with burglary. Also, you may not need to have physically broken into the building in order for this element to be met – simply walking through an unlocked door can suffice. This also means that if you got invited into the building by someone who had permission to be there, you also have permission and cannot get charged with burglary.
The intent to commit a crime once inside
Secondly, the prosecution must show that you had the intention to commit a criminal act once you were inside the structure. This means that simply being in a building without permission is not enough – there must be evidence that you intended to commit a theft or another crime. For example, if you got caught with burglary tools on you, this would be strong evidence that you intended to commit a crime.
What happens if you’re caught in the act?
If you’re caught in the act of burglarizing a residential structure, then your criminal defense team may likely have to deal with first-degree burglary. This is a more serious charge than second-degree burglary and carries heavier penalties. First-degree burglary usually involves breaking into someone’s home while they are present, whereas second-degree burglary usually involves an unoccupied building, such as a commercial building.
If you have been charged with burglary, it is important to understand the specifics of the charges against you. Being aware of the elements discussed above can help you create a strong criminal defense. If the prosecution cannot prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, then you’ll likely not get convicted of burglary.