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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Montgomery County Burglary Lawyer

Burglary, by law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a felony offense that is graded in a number of different ways. Burglary is the unlawful entering of the premise of another person, whether or not the premise was open or occupied at the time, or whether or not it was separately secured. When a person enters the premises of another with the intent to commit a crime therein, that person could be convicted of felony burglary. Such a conviction could lead to significant penalties, such as jail time, that may go on a person’s permanent record and affect their future job prospects. If you are facing a burglary conviction in Montgomery County, it may be advisable to consult a well-practiced Montgomery County burglary lawyer. A qualified theft attorney could build a strong defense to fight your charges and preserve your good name.

Burglary vs Trespassing

Burglary is the entering of a property with the intent to commit a crime. During a burglary, two things must occur. An individual must enter an area, with or without causing any sort of damage to enter such property, that they do not have a right to enter without permission. Once entered, the individual must be shown to have committed or attempted a crime on the property.

For criminal trespass cases, the intent to commit a crime does not exist. Thus, individuals may face prosecution for criminal trespass when they enter the premises of another, whether residential or commercial, and no crime is committed or attempted on the premises. The crime itself is criminal trespass. Criminal trespass may be considered a lesser charge included in most charges of the crime of burglary.

Contesting a burglary or trespassing charge may become a hassle if an individual is not familiar with the difference between the offenses and the nuances of how to contest each charge. An experienced Montgomery County burglary lawyer could examine an individual’s case and determine the merit and flaws of any burglary or trespassing charge.

Damage to Property

During the commission of a burglary, or attempted burglary, if an individual commits damage to private property, the damage could very well become a portion of any restitution and/or criminal mischief payment that is made in any resolution of the burglary or attempted burglary charge. If a person enters the premises of another without permission and causes damage upon entering, the damage could be shown as an intent to commit a burglary. The damage in and of itself may take the case away from a criminal trespass and allow the Commonwealth, through the mens rea of the individual, to show that by breaking in, the person intended to commit a crime on the property. This could allow the Commonwealth to charge the higher charge of burglary felony of the first and/or of the second degree.

In either case, when matters are negotiated with the Commonwealth in mitigation, restitution for damage may not only be evidence against the individual for the purpose of burglary but could be a portion of the restitution which must be paid before any resolution of a burglary case may be reached.

Different Degrees of Burglary Offenses

In Montgomery County and in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, burglary could be charged as a felony of the first degree, as a felony of the second degree, and individually as a strike. It may be the first of three strikes against an individual. Burglary in the first degree involves a residential dwelling that a person enters, and that dwelling is adapted for overnight use whether or not a person is present. In cases where a person is present at that time of a residential burglary, that case may also be a first, second, or third strike upon the charged person’s record. This could create a serious possibility of life in jail without parole. Burglary of the first degree is handled in a much more stringent fashion by the courts and prosecution. Burglary of the second degree may involve non-residential properties including commercial dwellings, stores, and locations of that nature.

While society does not approve of commercial dwellings being broken into, they could be treated in a much less harsh way than breaking into residential properties in Montgomery County.

Aggravating Factors in Burglary Cases

When dealing with burglaries in Montgomery County, the specific facts of each and every burglary often dictate aggravating factors used when determining a sentence. Whether or not a person was present at the time of the burglary, whether or not that person was injured, and whether or not some sort of privacy was violated, such as an attempted rape or assault could all be factored into the charge. The charge may be aggravated if a weapon was present or if tools were used, which could show that the charged person is not merely a novice at burglary.

If the commercial premise that was burgled recently obtained certain amounts of wealth and the individual decided at that time that it would be appropriate to break in, then the individual may be connected with the premises itself. All of these are aggravating factors that could make a court increase sentencing two to three times the normal limits. A Montgomery County burglary lawyer could contest any aggravated charges a person may be facing.

Contacting a Montgomery County Burglary Attorney

If a person is being investigated for or has been arrested for theft in Montgomery County, it is essential that they reach out and obtain the services of an experienced Montgomery County burglary lawyer. In dealing with theft cases in the city and county, individuals must understand that they are the type of crimes that judges and prosecutors focus on as deterrents. In other words, they can involve long sentences with incarceration and long periods of probation.

Additionally, theft crimes often lead to other crimes. When any sort of force is used during a theft, however slight, the crime can be charged as a robbery offense. A conviction for theft is a conviction of what is otherwise known as crimen falsi. This is a type of conviction that prevents an individual from many forms of future employment and mars their reputation.