Pittsburgh Burglary Lawyer | Burglary Charge Defense | Worgul, Sarna & Ness

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Burglary is a crime against property and one of Pennsylvania’s most serious crimes. While it is often lumped into the large category of theft, burglary is actually a distinct offense that shares characteristics with property-related and violent crimes. If you are questioned by the police or arrested in Pittsburgh, it is critical that you hire a Pittsburgh theft defense attorney as soon as you can.

Defend yourself against burglary charges by working with the veteran criminal defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness. We have decades of combined legal experience, backed by a track record of securing the best possible results for our clients.

Call (412) 281-2146 or submit the details online to set up a free consultation with our Pittsburgh burglary lawyers.

Pennsylvania Burglary Laws

Burglary under Pennsylvania law involves entering into a building or occupied structure with the intention of committing a crime. This means that you don’t have to actually steal anything to be charged with burglary. You don’t even have to break into the building. You just have to enter the structure with intent to commit theft, arson, rape, or some other crime.

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.

Common Misconceptions About Burglary Laws

One prevalent myth about burglary is that must involve theft. While it’s true that many burglars do commit theft once inside a structure, the intent to engage in any unlawful activity could lead to a burglary arrest. Here are some other key misconceptions:

  • You don’t have to complete the crime after you enter. 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 or occupied structure forcefully 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 alongside burglary charges.

Types of Burglary Offenses

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 overnight accommodations, such as a home. 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.

Penalties for Burglary in Pennsylvania

Burglary is a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania. If you’re convicted, your sentence could be up to 20 years’ incarceration and a maximum fine of $25,000. However, there are two exceptions to how a burglary offense 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 Against Burglary Charges in PA

You may have a defense against the Commonwealth’s allegations if at the time of the offense any of the following is true:

  • The building or structure was abandoned
  • You lacked any intent to engage in criminal activity inside the structure
  • The premises were open to the public
  • You had permission or license to enter the building

Even if you’ve been charged with burglary, an arrest is not a conviction. With the help of a burglary attorney, you can challenge the prosecution’s evidence and discredit any witnesses who testify against you.

A Lawyer Can Provide Valuable Advice and Counsel

When you retain a trusted 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 you need with their robust legal background.

Our Pittsburgh Burglary Defense Attorneys Can Help

If you have been charged with burglary, your first step should be to immediately hire a Pittsburgh burglary lawyer who has extensive theft representation experience. Frequently in burglary cases, there will be physical and electronic evidence, so a burglary attorney needs to not only read and interpret the statutes but also assess this evidence carefully. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your burglary attorney is with you. When you meet with your criminal lawyer, tell them everything that happened both before and during your arrest.

After a burglary charge in Pittsburgh, your rights are at stake and you need the best defense to keep them. Our burglary defense attorneys will fight using the strongest defense available to get your burglary charges reduced or to get the charges dismissed so you can move on with your life.

Contact us at (412) 281-2146 to set up a free consultation with our attorneys.