A criminal charge of burglary (or breaking and entering) is the act of unlawfully entering a home, business, or structure with the intent of committing a felony or theft.
Actual damage or forced entry is not required for a burglary charge. A closed door in a private area is sufficient to warrant a burglary charge under most state laws.
A burglary offense does not mean that the person is a career criminal or professional thief. Theft and burglary incidents can be a bad decision based on a desperate situation, or a drug addiction problem.
A burglary charge can also result from a childish prank, dare, or fraternity, gang, or club initiation.
And, of course, it can result from a misunderstanding, if you believe you were entitled to access the goods in question, or believe that it is your stuff that you were taking.
Commonly related charges to burglary include:
- Theft (Larceny)
- Criminal Mischief / Property Damage / (Vandalism)
- Domestic Charges
Penalties for Burglary
State laws vary widely on this. Some burglary offenses are misdemeanors, while many are felony charges. The seriousness of the offense and the potential penalties depend on the exact circumstances, and any related charges.
Felony burglary is typically charges when other felony offenses are committed at the time of the burglary, or felony offenses are attempted, planned, or conspired.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in Burglary Charges
Some states have tougher burglary penalties for burglary at night, including Massachusetts. (Ref: Massachusetts General Laws ch. 266 §§ 14-5)
A burglary in a home while people are present may be charged as a more serious offense than burglary of an unoccupied building or residence.
Some states have penalty enhancements for possession of a gun or weapon during a burglary.