Burglary is one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with in Pennsylvania. A burglary conviction will often lead to lengthy prison time, significant fines and court costs, and lifelong adverse effects on your personal and professional life. In addition, prosecutors will seek the maximum penalties for those charged with burglary, especially in cases in which violence is involved in any form. Therefore, having an aggressive PA defense lawyer on your side is crucial if the police charge you with burglary.
Bucks County Burglary Defense Lawyer
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals facing burglary charges in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation, or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
PA Burglary Law
In PA, a person can be charged with burglary if, with the intent to commit a crime, they:
- Enter a building or occupied structure that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which, at the time of the offense, any person is present, and the person commits, attempts, or threatens to commit a bodily injury crime; or
- They enter a building or occupied structure that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which, at the time of the entry, any person is present; or
- Enter a building or occupied structure that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which, at the time of the offense, no person is present; or
- Enter a building or occupied structure that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which, at the time of the offense, any person is present; or
- Enter a building or occupied structure that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which, at the time of the crime, no person is present
Why is Intent Important in a Burglary Case?
In Pennsylvania, the burglary statute requires that the actor commit an unauthorized entry into a building or occupied structure with the simultaneous intent to commit a crime upon entry. A prosecutor must prove both elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction at trial.
Examples of crimes intended to be committed in a building or occupied structure include theft, assault, arson, vandalism, and robbery. The intended crime does not have to be completed to satisfy this element of the burglary statute.
What is the Entry Requirement for a Burglary Crime?
The burglary statute does not require that the actor break into or otherwise cause damage to the building or occupied structure upon entry. The mere act of entering a building or occupied structure satisfies the entry requirement under the statute.
The entry requirement of the burglary statute can be satisfied even if any part of the body enters the premises.
A prosecutor can only obtain a conviction for burglary with sufficient evidence that the accused entered the building or occupied structure. Therefore, I can determine if the facts of your case are enough to satisfy the entry element of the burglary statute.
Penalties for a Burglary Conviction
The penalties for a burglary conviction vary depending on an individual’s prior criminal record, the type of building or structure entered, and whether an occupant was present in the building or structure at the time of the offense. Additionally, a conviction for burglary of a home or residence when the homeowner or resident is present is considered a “strike offense” under Pennsylvania’s “3 strikes law.”
Individuals convicted of a 2nd strike offense are subject to a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison. Furthermore, persons convicted of a 3rd strike offense are subject to a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison or a life sentence.
Grading of Burglary Crimes
The grading of a burglary charge is based on the type of building burglarized. Also, the grading will increase if a person is inside the structure at the time of the crime.
The police will grade the burglary of a residential home as a 1st-degree felony. In contrast, the police will classify the burglary of a commercial building, such as a retail store, as a 2nd-degree felony. Burglary is also graded as a 1st-degree felony if the actor’s intent upon entering the building was to commit a theft of controlled substances or designer drugs.
- 1st-degree felony
- Up to 20 years in state prison
- Up to $25,000 in fines
- 2nd-degree felony
- Up to 10 years in state prison
- Up to $25,000 in fines
Defending a Burglary Case in Pennsylvania
Developing a successful defense against burglary charges requires a comprehensive and focused strategy. First, I will thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances in your case to identify the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence. It may be necessary to use an independent defense investigator to interview witnesses and secure other evidence favorable to the defense.
I will analyze whether the police stopped, searched, or seized your person or property in violation of the United States Constitution or the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Pre-Trial Motions in a Burglary Case
I will also analyze the evidence in your case to determine if the police violated your constitutional right to remain silent or right to counsel during any police interview or interrogation. Finally, through filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence, I can challenge the prosecutor’s right to introduce any evidence acquired by the police as a result of a violation of your federal and state constitutional rights.
The prosecutor will often decide to withdraw the charges if the Motion to Suppress Evidence is granted by the trial judge. I can review the evidence in your case to determine if the police or prosecutors violated your constitutional rights during the investigation and prosecution of the burglary offense.
How to Beat a Burglary Charge
- Prove you lacked the intent to commit a crime upon entry into the building
- Establish that the building or structure was abandoned (complete defense against burglary)
- Demonstrate that the building or structure was open to the public
- Prove that you had permission to enter the building or structure
- Show that you were merely present at the scene of the burglary
- Alibi (prove that you were at a different location at the time of the crime)
- Prove that witnesses have mistakenly identified you
Burglary Defense Attorney
Suppose you have been charged with a burglary in Bucks County, Montgomery County, or the surrounding counties. In that case, you must act quickly to protect your rights and build the most vigorous possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation, or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.