Burglary is always a high-level felony offense under Pennsylvania law. As a result, a burglary conviction has the potential to result in decades in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. If you are charged with a burglary offense, it may be beneficial to you to seek the advice of a Pennsylvania burglary lawyer.
A permanent criminal record arising from a serious crime like burglary can be highly damaging to your ability to get employment, housing, and credit. You also are at risk of spending years away from your friends and family members.
A burglary defense attorney may be able to identify weaknesses in the evidence against you and help you reach a more successful resolution of your case.
Under 18 Pa. Con. Stat. § 3502, burglary generally occurs when persons enter buildings or homes with the intent to commit a crime therein, regardless as to whether others are present in those locations at the time of the offense. This section specifically exempts buildings that have been abandoned, that are open to the public at the time of the offense, or which persons have permission or the right to enter.
The prosecution must prove every element of the burglary statute in order to obtain a burglary conviction. If the evidence of even one element of the offense is weak or not present, a skilled burglary lawyer in Pennsylvania may be able to introduce reasonable doubt into the case. This could persuade prosecutors to offer a plea agreement with more favorable terms than if the case proceeded to trial.
For instance, there must be proof of an intent to commit a crime within the building at the time that burglary occurred. Therefore, if persons entered the building with no intentions on committing a crime, but they later find drugs that they attempt to steal, then there may not be evidence sufficient to sustain a burglary conviction. However, proving what others intended is often a complicated matter.
Burglary is a felony of the first degree, except that if the building is not a dwelling or place for overnight accommodations and is not occupied at the time of the offense, it is a felony of the second degree. Nonetheless, if the intent of the persons who enter the unoccupied building is to steal drugs, then the offense remains a felony of the first degree.
A conviction for a felony of the first degree can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine pursuant to 18 Pa. Con. Stat. § 106. A second degree felony conviction may cause a maximum prison sentence of ten years and a $25,000 fine.
Individuals also should be aware that a burglary conviction counts as a “strike” under Pennsylvania law. Those who receives three “strikes” can face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Some individuals may face additional charges arising out of a burglary offense. If the crime that they intended to commit in the building in which they committed burglary is first or second degree felony, then they also can face charges for the underlying criminal offense. In other words, these persons can be charged with both burglary and any other felony offense of the first or second degree that they intended to commit.
If the criminal offense that the persons intended to commit in the course of the burglary is not a first or second-degree felony, then the persons cannot be charged or convicted with the underlying offense. For those individuals who facing any degree of burglary charges, getting advice from a burglary lawyer in Pennsylvania is highly advisable.
A burglary conviction may be devastating for your personal and professional life. Avoiding or significantly minimizing the impact of this type of criminal conviction can be essential to maintaining your current way of life. A Pennsylvania burglary lawyer may be crucial to your ability to achieve this result.
Attempting to handle a felony of the first or second degree on your own can cause irreparable damage to your case. Obtaining legal representation at the very outset of your criminal case can give you the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome.