Burglary in Greensburg is often lumped into the large category of theft in Pennsylvania, but it’s actually a distinct offense that shares characteristics with property-related and violent crimes. Because of the misconceptions and complexities of the burglary laws, you put your rights at risk if you attempt to represent yourself after being arrested. Instead of going it alone, retain a Greensburg burglary attorney who will ensure the protection of your interests.
Make the most of your opportunity to defend yourself against burglary charges by working with Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, and our veteran theft lawyers in Greensburg. We have decades of combined legal experience, backed by a track record of securing the best possible results for our clients.
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Overview of Burglary Laws in Pennsylvania
Burglary under Pennsylvania law is entering into a building or occupied structure with the intention of committing a criminal offense inside. However, different grades of the crime focus on the type of building, whether anyone is present, and the crime you intended to commit. Therefore, important factors are whether or not:
- The building or a separately occupied area is suitable for overnight lodging;
- There was a person present within the structure or occupied area at the time of the entry; and,
- You intended to commit a crime involving bodily injury against a person within the building.
Misconceptions About Burglary Charges: One prevalent myth about burglary is that involves theft. While it’s true that many burglars do commit a theft once they are inside a structure, the intent to engage in any unlawful activity could lead to a burglary arrest. In addition, there are some other key misconceptions:
- Completing the crime after you enter is not a consideration. It’s enough that you entered into the structure with the intent of committing an offense.
- You don’t have to break into the building forcefully or occupied structure to be charged with burglary. If a door or window was open and you entered without permission, you can still be arrested.
- If the crime you intend to commit once inside a building is a first or second-degree felony, you can be charged with burglary and the separate offense. For instance, you could be arrested for an assault or theft crime alongside burglary charges.
Types of Burglary: Though Pennsylvania burglary laws don’t designate a separate offense, it’s important to understand some terms commonly associated with burglary.
- Burglary of habitation relates to the provision on overnight accommodations. The law distinguishes between structures that are adapted for sleeping quarters and those that are not. For example, burglary of a home is different from the burglary of a store.
- Aggravated burglary is often used in connection with committing the crime through the use of a weapon, or when a person commits aggravated assault alongside a burglary.
- Drug-related burglary is an offense grading factor, but not a separate crime. The term describes the situation where you committed burglary to engage in theft of a controlled substance.
Sanctions for a Conviction on Burglary Charges
Burglary is a first-degree felony. If you’re convicted of first-degree felony burglary, the sentencing could include up to 20 years’ incarceration and a maximum fine of $25,000. There are two exceptions to how a burglary is charged:
- If there was no one present in a building that was not adapted for overnight accommodations, the crime is a second-degree felony burglary. Your maximum sentence is 10 years’ imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.
- If theft of drugs is your purpose for entering an unoccupied structure that’s not equipped for overnight accommodations, the burglary crime is a first-degree felony because your intend to steal a controlled substance.
Defenses in Burglary Cases
Even if you’ve been charged with burglary, an arrest is not a conviction. With the help of a burglary attorney, you can contest the prosecution’s evidence and discredit any witnesses who testify against you. Plus, there are multiple defenses available. You can fight the charges by showing that:
- The building was abandoned;
- You lacked any intent to engage in criminal activity inside the structure;
- The building was open to the public;
- You had permission from the owner to enter the premises.
A Burglary Lawyer Can Provide Valuable Advice and Counsel
When you retain a skilled burglary attorney, you gain peace of mind knowing that you have put your case in good hands. Your lawyer can provide assistance from the time of your arrest, which is wise if you’re being questioned by police who aren’t concerned about violating your civil rights. Plus, legal counsel can help you during your arraignment and bond hearing, possibly enabling you to be released pending your trial. Throughout the pre-trial stages, your attorney can work on motions related to the above defenses. In some cases, it’s possible to have the charges dismissed or reduced.
At trial, a burglary lawyer is absolutely critical. Your success in a burglary case depends upon the ability to cross-examine witnesses and dispute the prosecution’s allegations. You’ll also need to present evidence on your own behalf and in further support of your defense. An attorney has the experience, knowledge, and skills that you may not if you don’t have a legal background.
Our Greensburg Burglary Lawyers are Prepared to Handle Your Defense
For more information on burglary charges and strategies to fight the allegations, please contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC . We can review your case and explain your options after conducting a free consultation. Our Greensburg burglary attorneys are available by phone at (724) 834-1275 or through our online form. We represent clients across Westmoreland County in all areas of criminal law, and we’re prepared to take on your burglary defense.