Strategic Legal Advocacy Against Burglary Charges
Burglary is typically defined as the unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. There is a common misconception that burglary occurs when someone unlawfully enters a structure to commit theft. In reality, the commission of any crime while illegally in a structure can lead to a burglary conviction.
If you were arrested or suspect you are under investigation, look for legal assistance as soon as possible. We, the lawyers at Ortega Law, LLC, have extensive experience in defending various criminal charges in Anne Arundel County.
Burglary Degrees Explained And Potential Penalties
In Maryland, burglary is viewed in degrees – first, second, third and fourth. First, second and third-degree burglary are all felonies, the most severe being burglary in the first degree. Fourth-degree burglary is a misdemeanor.
First-degree burglary is the most serious of these charges and occurs when a person breaks and enters someone else’s premises to commit theft or a crime of violence. The law refers to the specific place where someone sleeps, also called a dwelling. If convicted, the maximum possible penalty is 20 years if the person intended to steal or 25 years if they intended to commit a crime of violence.
Second-degree burglary occurs when a person breaks into the “storehouse” of another person with the intent of committing a theft, a crime of violence, arson in the second degree, or theft of a firearm. A storehouse includes, but is not limited to, a building, barn, stable, trailer or railroad car. If convicted of intending to steal a firearm, the maximum penalty is 20 years, and may also include a fine of up to $10,000. Otherwise, the maximum penalty for second-degree burglary is 15 years.
A third-degree burglary conviction can happen when a person breaks and enters the dwelling of another to commit a crime. Generally, the maximum possible sentence for third-degree burglary is 10 years.
Finally, burglary in the fourth degree occurs when a person breaks into the dwelling or someone else’s dwelling, whether or not there is intent to commit a crime of any type. Burglary in the fourth degree also includes remaining inside or outside someone else’s dwelling with the intention to commit theft. Possession of burglar tools – which includes a picklock, key, crowbar or burning devices, to name a few – to commit a burglary can also lead to a conviction for fourth-degree burglary. If convicted, the maximum penalty is three years.
A common defense for a person charged with burglary is that an individual honestly and reasonably believed that they could be in the home or place of business they were accused of entering. A good criminal defense attorney will listen carefully to the facts and circumstances giving rise to the alleged crime. The defense is often found in the close listening of the skilled defense attorney.