Under the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Burglary is considered a Crime against Property.  Pennsylvania’s definition of Burglary may be found at 18 PACS 3502.  Often times, people associate burglary with robbery or theft, but neither crime is necessary to be found guilty of burglary alone.

What is Burglary?

Burglary is nothing more than the entering of an occupied building or structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside.  So, this means entering a house, entering an office building, entering an apartment complex, etc.  Once inside, you do not have to commit a crime before being caught by the police.  “Aside from the standard defense, Burglary comes with its own, unique, defense.” All you have to do is enter the building with the intent to commit a crime.  This crime could be anything:  theft, arson, murder, robbery, assault, etc.

Burglary used to require two additional elements that have been amended out of most state statutes.  First, Burglary used to require breaking and entering.  That means you would have to break a window or break the lock on a door.  Over the years, the Supreme Court of the United States blurred the definition of “Breaking” so much that most states just amended the statute to read “enter a building or occupied structure.”  Second, Burglary used to require you to enter an occupied structure at night.  Burglary used to be defined as: “Breaking and entering of a dwelling of another, AT NIGHT, with the intent to commit a crime therein.”  However, the requirement of nighttime has been removed from most law.

What Are Some Defenses Against Burglary Charges?

There is always the standard defense that the facts around your case do not fit within the statutory definition of Burglary.  In other words, the Prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you entered the building or structure with the intent to commit a crime therein.  It is not enough for the Prosecution to simply show that you entered a building, even if uninvited.  “You cannot be found guilty of any other crime committed after you entered the building unless that additional crime is graded as a felony in the first or second degree.”

Aside from the standard defense, Burglary comes with its own, unique, defense.  You cannot be found guilty of Burglary if the building or structure that you entered was abandoned.  Even if the Prosecution is able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you entered the building with the intent to commit a crime, it cannot be Burglary if the building was abandoned.

What If You Are Convicted of Burglary?

If you are found guilty of entering a building with the intent to commit a crime, you are guilty of a felony in the first degree.  That means a lot of jail time.  If the building is not accommodated for overnight dwelling and there is no one present in the building at the time of entry, then you are guilty of a felony in the second degree.

Finally, you cannot be found guilty of any other crime committed after you entered the building unless that additional crime is graded as a felony in the first or second degree.

What Should You Do Now?

If you are charged with Burglary, it is very important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.  There are a number of factors that play into a conviction of Burglary and only an experienced attorney will have knowledge and skill to fight your case.  Give me a call at 412-209-0657.  I will take the time to speak with you about your case and advise you of your best course of action.  With a charge as series as Burglary, you cannot afford to wait around or try to handle things on your own.