In 2017, there were over 1.4 million burglaries reported across the U.S. In Pennsylvania in 2017, there were slightly over 32,000 burglaries reported. In Delaware County, criminal cases are heard by the Court of Common Pleas, which has roughly 20 judges among their large staff.
Some of the facts that are associated with burglary offenses in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- The vast majority of burglaries involve entry into a residential home.
- Other buildings and structures that are sometimes entered in burglaries include commercial or office buildings, gas stations, parking structures, specialty stores, construction sites, and restaurants. Crimes occurring at these locations amount to a very small percentage compared to residential homes.
- Most victims of burglary know the alleged perpetrator of the offense.
- The leading classifications of association between the parties include acquaintances, boyfriend or girlfriend, stranger, or “otherwise” known.
Burglary is a crime potentially committed in various ways and may be either a first or second-degree felony offense. The basis of the offense involves someone entering a “building or occupied structure” to commit a crime. These offenses involve entry into a structure that is not open to the public at the time or that the person is otherwise prohibited from entering.
The crime is a first-degree felony offense in most cases; however, if the structure is not designed for overnight occupancy and there is no one inside it may be a second-degree offense. Because the charge is based on the entry for the purpose of committing a crime, there are often multiple offenses involved. Lesser offenses (below second-degree felony) will not be charged concurrently with a burglary offense.
Third-degree felony offenses are punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to twenty years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Keep in mind that criminal courts have some discretion and may consider a variety of factors when imposing penalties.
- The structure that was entered had been abandoned
- Entry was not for the purpose of committing a crime inside
- The entrant was licensed to access the structure
- Consent was given by the owner or controller of the structure for entry
Criminal Trespass (§ 3503)
One similar charge that is often confused with a burglary offense involves criminal trespassing. This charge may involve intentional unlawful entry to a building or structure by subterfuge or to remain inside in a covert manner. In these scenarios, the offense is a third-degree felony. When the building or structure is “broken into” or access is gained by intimidating someone, the offense is elevated to a felony of the second degree.
Importance of Retaining Legal Defense
Crimes such as burglary and other similar felony offenses may have life-altering consequences such as a multi-year prison sentence, difficulty in obtaining future employment, and being ostracized in the community. Retaining the best criminal defense attorney that you can is certainly warranted.
Delaware County Defense Attorney for Felony Charges
Joseph D. Lento is a lawyer that is experienced in providing aggressive legal defense for clients in Delaware County courts. He will thoroughly assess the case, including the facts, evidence, and unique circumstances in efforts to mount a comprehensive defense. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a free case evaluation.