Being charged with burglary is a serious crime that can greatly affect a person’s life. In Pennsylvania, the penalties for a burglary conviction can be especially severe. In Palmerton, Bethlehem, and Stroudsburg, burglary is considered a felony charge of either the first or the second degree.
If you are at risk of being convicted of burglary, seek the legal advice of a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and offer you legal advice. For more information about how burglary is defined in Pennsylvania, as well as the penalties for burglary, continue reading the following.
The Definition of Burglary in Pennsylvania
According to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Sec. 3502 (a), burglary in Pennsylvania is defined as a person entering a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime, unless the premises are “at the time open to the public or the actor is licensed or privileged to enter.”
In other words, any person that enters a building without an invitation or permission, and enters with the plan to commit a crime, is therefore meeting the definitions of burglary. However, if the person was lawfully on the property (he or she had permission or an invitation), then burglary charges would not apply.
The definitions for burglary explained above apply regardless of whether or not the property is a public building or a residential home. However, while the definition is the same, the consequences and penalties are different depending upon whether or not people were present at the time the burglary occurred.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the intended crime does not have to take place for burglary to occur; rather, the simple intention to a commit a crime is enough to constitute a burglary charge. Additionally, breaking and entering also does not have to occur—a person can enter the premises through the front door, with no damage caused, with the intention of a committing a crime, to meet the definition of burglary.
Penalties of a Burglary Conviction in Pennsylvania
If a person commits a burglary in someone else’s home or dwelling, and if that person was home at the time that the burglary occurred, then the person who committed the burglary will face first-degree felony charges. In a first-degree felony charge such as this, the incarceration time can be up to 20 years.
On the other hand, if the burglary is committed in a building that is not a home or residential property, and if no one is present at the time of the burglary’s occurrence, then the charge may be a second-degree felony with a sentence of a maximum of 10 years in prison.
In addition the penalties for the burglary conviction, an individual may also face separate charges and penalties for the crime committed in conjunction with the burglary charge if the crime constituted a felony offense:
- drug delivery; or
- other felonies found under the Pennsylvania Code Offense Listings Section 303.15.
If you have been charged with burglary, some defenses with which an attorney can assist you may include:
- arguing you had no intent to commit a crime;
- that the building or structure was abandoned at the time of your entry; or
- that you had a right to enter the property, either through permission of the property owner or because the property was opened to the public and the time of your entrance.
Seek Legal Counsel with ARM Lawyers
A burglary conviction can alter the course of a person’s life. As such, if you are facing burglary charges, it’s important to seek legal counsel immediately. An attorney can guide you through the process of understanding your best defense, and can provide you with more information about your legal options and rights.