Burglary is a specific crime that is often associated with theft, though nothing needs to be stolen in order for a crime to be committed. When all elements of the crime are proven by the Commonwealth, a person can be penalized severely. Even after paying his or her debts to society, a convicted person can still feel the consequences as a criminal record can sometimes prevent a person from obtaining a job, securing a loan, among other things. The effects of the crime, therefore, are long-term.
Fighting the charge is often the only way to avoid jail or prison, fines, and the collateral consequences that follow a criminal record. Joseph D. Lento, a burglary defense attorney in Philadelphia, understands the stakes and is committed to a strong, viable defense. He's been representing clients in Philadelphia for more than 15 years -- his practice is varied and expansive and his knowledge and skills are just as varied and expansive. Contact Joseph D. Lento today to discuss your case.
How is burglary defined in Philadelphia?
The offense burglary is defined by 18 Pa.C.S. § 3502. This crime is committed when a person intends to commit a crime and enters a building or occupied structure that is:
- adapted for overnight accommodations and attempts or threatens to commit bodily injury to another person;
- adapted for overnight accommodations and a person is present;
- adapted for overnight accommodations and a person is not present;
- adapted for overnight accommodations and a person is not present.
What this means is the defendant entered a residential or commercial building without permission and did so with the intent to commit a crime upon entering the building. The crime can be any crime, like assault and not just theft. The crime, however, requires intent to commit a crime -- the Commonwealth must prove this intent in order to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
What is the punishment if convicted of burglary in Philadelphia?
If convicted of burglary, the sentence depends on the grading. Burglary is a felony of the first degree unless the defendant's intent to enter a building was to steal a controlled substance or designer drug, at which time the offense is a felony of the second degree.
- A first-degree felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $25,000; and
- A second-degree felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
To note, you will not be sentenced for both burglary and the underlying offense (e.g., theft or assault) unless the underlying offense is a felony of the first or second degree. If so, then your sentence will reflect the additional charge(s).
Are there any defenses to a burglary charge in Philadelphia?
The statute provides specific defenses to a burglary charge, and this includes:
- The building or structure was abandoned at the time the alleged crime was committed;
- The premises were open to the public; or
- The defendant was licensed or privileged to enter the building or structure.
In the absence of these specific defenses, Joseph D. Lento will consider the facts and circumstances of your case to develop a strong defense that can successfully challenge the Commonwealth's argument.
Philadelphia Burglary Defense Attorney
Joseph D. Lento has the insight and resources to develop a strong defense against a charge of burglary. He understands the law and approaches your defense from all angles. Contact the Lento Law Firm today either online or at 215-535-5353 to set up a consultation and learn more about how Joseph D. Lento may be able to help you.