Elements required for burglary and defenses

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Burglary is defined as illegally entering a structure with the intention of committing a crime. While some people think of burglary and theft as the same, theft involves the unlawful taking of property. However, the case must meet several elements in Atlanta, Georgia, before a person is charged.

Elements of burglary

The first element needed for it to count as burglary is an actual break-in by actual force or constructive force. Constructive force is using a method of entry that doesn’t involve physical force, such as threatening harm or bribery. The law doesn’t require the offender to use force for the crime to count as burglary. A burglary charge may result from such behavior as sticking a hand through an unlocked window.

The offender must break into a structure or building, which may include, boats, apartments, warehouses, vehicles, and barns. In the past, burglary was defined as breaking into a residence at night, but laws have expanded the structures.

The offender must have the intention to commit another offense inside, such as vandalism or property destruction. If the offender breaks into a building and doesn’t take anything, it is considered breaking and entering.

Defenses to burglary charges

The prosecution can not convict anyone unless they can prove the intent, which a criminal defense lawyer can challenge. A defense lawyer may argue the defendant had permission to be there, which is true if the owner never removed consent. An example includes if the defendant was doing a job for the owner, but was not working on the site at the time.

Another defense is to claim the unlawful entry as an act of necessity to avoid physical harm or danger. However, they must prove it was significant harm or evil, and they had no other choice. The defense may also show the defendant is not the one at the scene of the crime with a solid alibi.

Burglary often comes with penalties of up to 15 years in jail. In some cases, the defense team may try to work out a plea bargain.