When the police suspect someone of breaking into another person’s home, vehicle, or business, that person can be charged with burglary. Burglary is often charged as a serious felony, and defendants should contact an attorney immediately.
Burglary involves breaking into an occupied structure with the intent of committing a crime once inside. Often, burglaries are associated with theft and robberies, but not necessarily in every case. Burglary is often charged as a felony offense, and defendants face a very lengthy prison term if convicted. There may be multiple ways in which we can help you defend yourself, depending on how the offense allegedly occurred and the evidence the prosecutor plans to use against you. In some cases, it is possible to reduce burglary charges to lesser offenses that might carry lighter penalties.
Burglary charges carry some incredibly strict penalties, and defendants might spend years in prison if convicted. Our Bucks County burglary defense attorneys can help you effectively fight against these accusations. For a free case review, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 701-6519.
How Burglary is Defined by Law in Bucks County
People sometimes mistake the act of burglary as only breaking and entering, but there are elements beyond the mere unlawful entry. Burglary is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3502(a) and includes multiple elements that must be established in order to assess charges. Our Bucks County burglary defense attorneys can go over your charges and help you determine if the charges are unfounded or unwarranted.
A burglary occurs when someone enters a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside. Burglary charges can be assessed even if nobody was present when the entry occurred, as long as the intruder intended to commit a crime once inside. In cases where people were present in the occupied structure, and bodily harm or threats of harm are involved, charges are often more severe.
The occupied structure in a burglary case does not necessarily have to be someone’s home. While homes are common subjects of burglaries, vehicles or places of business can also be involved in burglary cases. One of the most crucial elements of burglary is the intent to commit a crime once inside the structure. If there is no criminal intent, burglary should not be charged.
Criminal Charges and Penalties for Burglary in Bucks County
Burglary is often charged as a felony, but different circumstances call for different levels of felony charges. In the most serious cases, burglary may be a first-degree felony. If the burglary occurred in a person’s home or an occupied structure adapted for overnight accommodations, someone was inside, and the intruder caused, attempted, or threatened bodily harm, first-degree felony charges may be assessed.
If nobody is present within the home or structure when the burglary allegedly takes place, burglary charges may be for second-degree felonies. However, if the alleged intruder intends to steal controlled substances, the charges may be for first-degree felonies even though nobody was present. Our Bucks County burglary defense lawyers can help you argue against these allegations and hopefully avoid harsh penalties.
The penalties for burglary are quite severe. As a second-degree felony, burglary may be punished by up to 10 years in prison. If burglary is a first-degree felony, the penalty might include up to 20 years in prison. Various factors, such as whether anyone was harmed, the extent of bodily injuries, and the presence of a weapon, may be used to justify higher penalties.
Possible Defenses to Burglary Charges in Bucks County
No two criminal cases are exactly alike, even when charges are similar. Your case deserves an individualized defense strategy tailored to your needs. Our Bucks County burglary defense lawyers can help you determine the best and most effective defense tactics to fight your charges.
Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3502(b), there are several defenses that, if successfully argued, are a defense to prosecution for burglary. First, it is a defense to burglary charges if the building or structure in question was abandoned. It is not unusual for people to get curious and explore abandoned properties. When law enforcement officials find people lurking about these places, they might get suspicious or be unaware that the property is abandoned.
Second, it is a defense to burglary charges if the property or premises in question was open to the public at the time of the alleged burglary. For example, a store cannot be burglarized when it is open to the public during normal business hours.
Finally, it is a defense to burglary charges if the defendant was authorized to enter the property. For example, suppose the defendant is arrested for burglary because they were trying to break into someone’s home late at night. They can defend themselves against these charges if the home’s owner permits them to enter. Misunderstandings often arise when people are authorized to enter but perhaps forget a key and must slip in through a window, arousing the suspicion of neighbors.
Reducing Burglary Charges in Bucks County
Some defendants have trouble asserting a strong defense to burglary charges. In such a situation, our Bucks County burglary defense attorneys can focus on reducing charges rather than eliminating them. One possibility is to reduce the charges to a lesser offense of criminal trespass.
The offense of criminal trespass can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3503. There are several ways in which a person may be charged with criminal trespass. One way is for a person to unlawfully enter a building or structure they know they are not authorized to enter. The key difference between criminal trespass and burglary is that criminal trespass does not necessarily require the intent to commit a crime once inside the structure or building.
Charges for criminal trespass might be more appropriate than burglary if someone entered a building or structure lawfully but refused to leave when asked. At that point, the person might become a defiant trespasser. If prosecutors cannot prove the intent to commit a crime, we can reduce the charges to criminal trespass.
Call Our Bucks County Burglary Defense Lawyers for Help Now
Call our Bucks County burglary defense attorneys for a free case review if you have been charged with burglary. The penalties for this offense can be quite steep, and an attorney can help you protect your rights and freedom. Call the team at Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 701-6519.