Under Pennsylvania law, a burglary offense is considered a felony, the level of which depends on the facts and circumstances of your case, and usually the seriousness of the offense. Burglary offenses typically involve the theft or the unpermitted taking of someone else’s property. In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with burglary if the offense you allegedly commit meets the following elements:
- you enter someone’s home or other occupied structure without their permission or invitation, and,
- you intend to commit a crime inside that home or structure.
As mentioned above, the crime that one usually intends to commit once inside the property of another is theft, but for purposes of burglary, the crime could actually be anything from arson, rape, assault, or murder. It makes no difference whether the intended crime actually takes place. If you had the intent to commit the crime once inside of the home or structure, you can be charged with and convicted of burglary.
Defenses to a Burglary Charge in Pennsylvania
It is important to note that to be found guilty of burglary in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to commit a crime inside the property of another. Accordingly, if the evidence reveals that you did not have the requisite intent to commit a crime once inside the home or structure, you may not necessarily be convicted of burglary. In Pennsylvania, you might also be able to successfully fight a burglary charge if the building or structure you entered was abandoned; the building or structure happened to be open to the public during your alleged burglary offense; you had a license to be in the building or on the property during the time of the alleged offense; or, you had the property owner’s permission to be inside the building or on the property. It is not a defense to a burglary charge if you did not have to use physical force to gain entrance to the building or structure. Even if the building or structure’s doors or windows were unlocked or wide open, and you were able to enter the building or structure freely, as long as you intended to commit a crime inside that building or structure, you can be found guilty of burglary.
Penalties for a Burglary Conviction
If you are convicted of burglary, you can face significant jail time and large fines depending on the seriousness of your offense. In Pennsylvania, burglary is typically considered a first degree felony, unless the structure or building that you entered did not allow for an overnight stay and no one was present at the time you entered the structure or building. In these instances, the offense is still considered burglary, but it may be reduced to a second degree felony. A first degree felony conviction in Pennsylvania is punishable by up to twenty years in jail, and a fine of up to $25,000. For a second degree felony conviction, you can face up to ten years in jail, and a fine of up to $25,000. In addition, if you actually commit a crime while burglarizing the property of another, and that crime is considered a first or second degree felony, you may face additional criminal charges and any penalties associated with a conviction for that offense.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney today to help you fight your burglary charge!
If you have been arrested and charged with burglary, you can potentially face serious and long-lasting adverse consequences in your everyday life. A criminal conviction can affect your ability to obtain and keep a job, and even your ability to qualify for student financial aid. If you are facing burglary charges, contact a knowledgeable and experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Coover & Scheidemann have successfully helped other people who have faced similar criminal charges like yours, and they can review the facts and evidence in your case, advise you of your rights and responsibilities under the law, and help you determine the best strategy for fighting your burglary charge.