Burglary, in the public’s imagination, maintains the image of the masked man dressed black, slipping into a home with a flashlight to steal jewelry and other valuables. In reality, the legal definition of burglary in Pennsylvania is very broad, and centers around one major concept: entering a building with the intent to commit some other crime. It’s also a very serious property offense with very severe penalties.
Attorney Michael J. Skinner is an experienced advocate for West Chester residents accused of burglary. He’ll look at every detail of your case and search for every flaw and every hole in the prosecution. Michael J. Skinner is a former prosecutor who represents those facing burglary charges in Chester County and Delaware County, PA. Call the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 or send an online message to set up a free consultation to discuss your burglary charges.
Burglary, under Title 18, Section 3502 of Pennsylvania Statutes, happens when a person, with the intent to commit a crime, enters a building or occupied structure. While many people may think of burglary as an act of theft, theft is actually only one of the crimes that might be committed that could lead to burglary charges in Chester County. If for instance, a person walked into a home, uninvited, to assault a resident, it could be burglary because the person entered an occupied structure with the intent of committing a crime.
If charged with burglary, the person cannot also be charged with the offense they allegedly intended to commit. For instance, if a person breaks into a building to steal property worth less than $2,000, that person cannot also be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there is an exception: If the crime to be allegedly committed was a first or second-degree felony, the accused may also face those charges. If a person is accused of breaking into a home to rape an occupant, that person may be charged with both burglary and rape.
Burglary is a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. However, if the structure was not adapted for a person to stay overnight, like a house, apartment or hotel, and no one was on the premises at the time, the charges may be reduced to a felony of the second, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
Prosecutors must prove every element of their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means they must prove to the jury that, other than some highly improbable or far-fetch scenario, what they say happened, and happened the way they say it happened. This is a tough standard to prove, and prosecutors must meet it for every assertion they make their case. They must prove that you intended to commit a crime, which can be particularly difficult. However, it’s far from impossible. In fact, Chester County prosecutors do it every day.
If a building was abandoned, it cannot be burglarized. If it was open to the public, it also cannot be burglarized. If a person is invited onto the premises or is otherwise authorized to be there, that person cannot commit burglary. So, a person who is invited to a house party and steals valuables while at the house should not be charged with burglary, although he or she might face charges for theft. These defenses must be asserted by your property crimes lawyer.
If you’ve been accused of burglary, West Chester defense lawyer Michael J. Skinner can fight the charges for you. He’ll look for every weakness in the prosecution and expose it. If you face charges anywhere in Chester or Delaware County, contact the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 or send an online message for a free consultation.