When you are facing a serious felony charge like burglary in Pennsylvania, you likely need to take every measure possible to protect your rights and your future. A burglary conviction may pose a considerable obstacle when you attempt to better yourself through education or employment in the future. If you are facing burglary or related charges, you should contact a Chester County burglary lawyer for advice.
Failing to take immediate action to defend yourself against burglary charges could result in the loss of critical evidence. You also may lose out on opportunities to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. A determined defense attorney can be essential to your ability to effectively fight back against burglary charges.
18 Pa. Con. Stat. § 3502 defines burglary as occurring when individuals enter unlawfully enters buildings or home to commit a crime. Burglary may occur regardless as to whether other persons are present in the buildings or home at the time of the offense.
The statute explicitly excludes abandoned buildings, those that are open to the public, and those which individuals have permission or authority to enter. As a result, if the building or residence fits one of these exclusions, individuals can raise evidence of an exclusion as a defense to burglary charges.
Likewise, to prosecute individuals for burglary, there must be evidence to show that the individuals had the intent to commit a crime. This evidence may include possession of weapons that could harm others, tools or other items habitually used to steal items from a residence, or the presence of illegal drugs. Whatever the case may be, a burglary lawyer in Chester County may be able to help build a defense to allegations of burglary or other crimes.
In most cases, burglary is a first-degree felony under Pennsylvania law. For a first-degree felony conviction under 18 Pa. Con. Stat. § 106, individuals may receive a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, as well as a $25,000 fine.
If the location of the burglary is not a residence for others or is unoccupied at the time that the offense occurs, then the charge drops to a second-degree felony offense. However, the penalties are still severe; individuals convicted of a second-degree felony still may face up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Under Pennsylvania law, a burglary conviction qualifies as one “strike.” Individuals who receive three “strikes” or certain criminal convictions may face a mandatory life prison sentence. Furthermore, if individuals committed burglary in the course of committing or attempting to commit a first or second-degree felony, then they may face additional charges for the underlying offense.
A felony conviction of any kind also is likely to have a significant impact on future professional and personal opportunities. Some employers refuse to employ any individuals with felony convictions, and some careers require that individuals have no felony record. Likewise, individuals may be unable to pursue professional licensing or some careers if they have a felony conviction.
Having a felony conviction also causes the permanent loss of some fundamental civil rights, in some cases. For instance, federal law prohibits any individuals with felony convictions from owning or possessing any firearms. A burglary attorney in Chester County may be able to assist individuals in minimizing or avoiding some of these potential repercussions.
Legal counsel may be able to attack the evidence supporting each necessary element of a burglary charge. Various defenses may be relevant to your case, but legal advice may be required to use those defenses to your advantage. Working with a Chester County burglary lawyer may result in a better overall outcome in your case.
Taking steps to protect and focus on your future includes getting the legal advice that you likely need in this situation. Otherwise, you may put your prospects at substantial risk.