Burglary is a criminal offense that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. In order to be convicted of burglary, there are certain elements that must be present.
A person getting into a building or occupied structure without permission
This simply means that the accused must have actually entered the building or occupied structure through an unlocked door or window. They may also have forced their way in by breaking a lock or window although this is not a necessary requirement. Just simply being on the property is not enough to get convicted of burglary. Also, if the person had permission to be on the property, they cannot get charged with burglary.
Doing so with the intent to commit a crime
This can be difficult to prove because it requires showing what the person was thinking at the time. However, if there is evidence that the person was carrying items that could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar or gloves, this may be enough to show intent. If you get accused of burglary, for instance, your criminal defense attorney may argue that you didn’t have the intent to commit a crime because you didn’t have a weapon or tools on you.
When does a burglary charge become a felony?
Usually, a burglary charge is a felony if the building or occupied structure was home or dwelling. This is because people usually feel more violated when someone breaks into their home as opposed to, say, their office.
If you get charged with burglary, it’s important to understand the elements of the crime so that you can mount a strong defense. If you show that one of the elements is missing, such as intent or permission, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed.