Philadelphia Burglary Cases

As with many serious property crimes in a city such as Philadelphia and Philadelphia County, local courts and prosecutors often come down very hard upon individuals charged and convicted of burglary.

Burglary is a type of crime that society wants to prevent from occurring because it often puts innocent individuals in harm’s way. If you have been charged with a burglary offense and want to know what the best course of action is in Philadelphia burglary cases, speak with a skilled burglary attorney that could guide you.

How the Prosecution Treats Burglary Offenses

When a burglary involves private residences, home invasions and robberies can also be charged in conjunction with a burglary charge. Individuals who enter a private dwelling to commit a crime, such as theft or assault, while entering the premises without permission, the charge is then treated as burglary of either the first or second-degree, depending on whether the premises is maintained for overnight use.

Burglary of Commercial Dwellings

In Philadelphia burglary cases involving commercial dwellings like warehouses, malls, and private stores, society is also harmed when individuals commit burglary crimes. These are areas in which wealth is kept and there is some expectation of privacy.

When an individual breaks that privacy and enters without permission, often creating damage to the premises, and steals items within the premises, the person is charged with burglary. This is a felony in the second-degree, which can carry up to 10 years in jail and restitution up to many times the number of items being taken or damaged during the breaking and entering of the premises.

Elements the Prosecution Must Prove in Burglary Cases

In Philadelphia burglary cases, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the criminal elements and mens rea for burglary exist. First and foremost, the case is dependent upon the gradation of the burglary that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania put forward.

Elements in Cases Involving Private Residences

In cases involving private residences, where individuals are present at the time of the burglary, all the government needs to show is that a person entered, without permission, a location that is separately secured for private use and overnight use. Once the person enters that area without permission, any sort of crime therein constitutes a burglary. Thus, the act of entering alone is not a burglary, but is a criminal trespass. Once a crime is attempted or occurs within the premises, the elements of burglary are made out.

Elements in Cases Involving Commercial Areas

In cases involving commercial areas, burglaries are charged as a felony of the second-degree. This involves entering a premises without permission from the owners and committing a crime therein. Premises can be any separately secured area and, in some cases, even a fenced-in area or a commercial area.

Penalties for Burglary

Generally speaking, dependent upon the facts and grading of a particular burglary, and upon whether or not a person was present at the time, sentences can vary widely within the city and county of Philadelphia. When dealing with a felony of the first-degree, a person can face as much as 20 years in jail and a $25,000 fine, not including any other lesser charges.

In Philadelphia burglary cases involving felonies of the second-degree, a person can face as much as 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine in addition to any other restitution and lesser included offenses also accompanying that burglary charge. Individuals with burglary offenses in the city and county of Philadelphia, and in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, face significant jail time and fines.

Value of a Philadelphia Burglary Attorney

A person charged with burglary should hire a lawyer because, when dealing with burglary charges in Pennsylvania, including both the city and county of Philadelphia, the charge is treated in a very harsh and serious manner. Burglary is always graded as a felony. When it is an occupied structure which a person enters, with any kind of force, the burglary is graded as a felony of the first-degree.

If the premises has a person who is present and the premises is adapted for overnight use, the burglary is graded as a felony of the first-degree, thus carrying a sentence as high as 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Having a person present during the burglary is also considered a strike in the three strikes law in Pennsylvania. Thus, the person on a second or third strike because of felony one burglary can face as much as life without parole. It is a serious crime that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. When the charge involves commercial property, it can be graded as a felony of the second-degree. That is why individuals charged with burglary should speak with an attorney that has experience handling Philadelphia burglary cases, that could fight for them.