Delaware County Burglary Lawyer

Burglary is viewed by many people in Delaware County is a non-violent property offense similar to theft. However, the law views the crime of burglary as a much more serious offense.

Even if no property was taken or no one suffered harm, a burglary is considered a first or second-degree felony. The penalties are severe.

Therefore, if you are facing burglary charges, it is wise to begin working with a knowledgeable Delaware County burglary lawyer soon. A criminal defense lawyer could start right away investigating to locate evidence to build a solid defense for your case. A skilled defense attorney could also protect your rights at all stages of the proceedings.

Actions That Constitute Burglary

In general terms, a person commits burglary when they enter a building without permission and with the intent to commit a crime. There is no requirement that someone needs to “break in.”

Specifically, under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3502, a burglary occurs when someone acting with the intent to commit a crime:

  • Enters a building or occupied structure and commits, attempts, or threatens to commit a bodily injury crime
  • Enters a building or occupied structure while someone is present
  • Enters a building or occupied structure while no one is present
  • Enters a separately secured or occupied portion of a building or structure

Many people would think of these actions as trespassing rather than burglary, particularly in situations where the premises are unoccupied.

When a Burglary is Treated as a Felony of the First Degree

The statute defining burglary specifies that the offense will be regarded as a first-degree felony in many of the situations described. If someone is in the building or structure, the offense will be considered a first-degree felony. If the burglary involves a home or any place adapted for overnight accommodation, then the crime is a felony of the first degree.

Experienced lawyers know that those convicted of a first-degree felony may be imprisoned for up to 20 years, while the maximum sentence for a second-degree felony is ten years. Accordingly, it may be important to seek evidence to show that a structure was unoccupied or not intended for use as an overnight sleeping space.

Defenses to Burglary Charges

The statute defining burglary specifically includes three defenses to prosecution for burglary. A person accused of burglary may not be convicted if the premises were “open to the public.”

In addition, a person will not be guilty of burglary if they had permission or authorization to be on the premises. Finally, a Delaware County burglary lawyer may successfully defend a client against burglary charges by demonstrating that the building or structure at issue was abandoned.

Consult a Delaware County Burglary Attorney

Burglary is prosecuted as an extremely severe offense in Delaware County, even when no one suffered harm or witnessed an unauthorized entry on property. The prosecution does not need to prove the specific crime that someone intended to commit, only that there was an intent to commit an offense other than the unauthorized entry.

A Delaware County burglary lawyer could look for evidence to demonstrate that the person charged had no such intent. In addition, a criminal defense lawyer could look for weaknesses to exploit in the prosecution’s case, as well as affirmative defenses to assert.

Moreover, a defense lawyer could provide advice throughout all stages of the proceedings to help avoid mistakes that could jeopardize a case. For a free consultation to learn how a Delaware County defense lawyer could help in your situation, call now.