Burglary is a very specific criminal offense with several important elements that can be difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Challenging the evidence that prosecutors use to prove those elements of burglary is one of the best ways to defend against a criminal charge.
A recent incident in Philadelphia highlights how this can work in real life.
Two Important Aspects of the Law of Burglary in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, burglary is outlawed by 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3502. This statute prohibits entering a variety of types of buildings – from occupied to residential to empty – with the intent to commit a crime.
Two huge elements to the offense of burglary are:
- Entering with the intent to commit a crime once inside
- Unlawfully entering the building
Entering a Building With an Intent to Commit a Crime
One of the most important elements of the offense of burglary is that you entered a building with the intent to commit a crime.
This intent to commit a crime has to exist at the time you gain access to the building, not at some point afterward. This means that breaking into a building so you can look around, only to suddenly find and take something of value once inside, would not amount to burglary. It may be theft and it may be criminal trespass, but it would not be burglary because the intent to commit a crime did not exist at the time you crossed the threshold.
Another important aspect of burglary charges is the defense of lawful entry. While burglary law in Pennsylvania does not require that you to break a door or window in order to gain access to the inside, it is a strong defense to an allegation of burglary that you were voluntarily allowed inside.
4 Women Stabbed at Philadelphia House Party: Probably Not a Burglary
With these rules of burglary in mind, it would be unlikely that a recent stabbing in the Elmwood neighborhood of Philadelphia would amount to a burglary.
According to the initial reports, there was a house party at the intersection of Elmwood and South Dewey Streets on Friday night, June 28. At the party, a fight broke out between two groups of women and four people got stabbed.
Of course, there is still much we don't know about the incident. However, while it would be deemed an assault and possibly even an assault with a dangerous weapon, it does seem like burglary charges are going to be charged – prosecutors would have to prove both that the alleged assailants went into the party with the intent to commit the assault, and that they were not invited, in the first place.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
Any criminal charge is a serious thing to face. Even the possibility of fines and a jail sentence can alter the course of your life. Hiring an effective criminal defense lawyer like Joseph D. Lento is a critical part of the defense process. Call his Philadelphia law office at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online.