If you are caught in a store, office building, apartment or house – and the police decide you were there with the intention of committing a crime – you can be charged with burglary. Although you might think burglary is linked to theft, in Pennsylvania an actual theft doesn’t have to take place for burglary to be committed. If you are charged with burglary, you face severe penalties that include years in prison and heavy fines. You will need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney in PA as soon as possible who can provide a strong defense.
In Pennsylvania, burglary is simply defined as entering a building with the intent to commit a crime.
- If the building was open to the public at the time or you had permission to be in it, these are possible defenses.
- You do not have to break into the building to be charged with burglary.
- Burglary does not have to be committed at night – you can be charged no matter what time you entered the building.
- It is a defense if you were in a building that was abandoned.
- Burglary is a crime against property, not people.
Burglary is a felony of the first degree, and if convicted you can face up to 20 years in prison. If the building you were found in is not equipped as a place where you can overnight and if there was no one in the building when you entered, it is a felony of the second degree.
You can’t be found guilty for both burglary and other offense you intended to commit when you entered the building unless the additional defense is a felony of the first or second degree.
Conspiracy To Commit Burglary
In Pennsylvania, a conspiracy to commit a burglary offense occurs when two or more people agree and plan a burglary or attempt to commit a burglary or solicit someone else to commit a burglary.
Your association with the conspiracy is the important element.
In Pennsylvania, even if you just played a small role in a criminal conspiracy, if you are convicted you will be sentenced to the same grade of felony as the crime that was committed.
So if you helped friends in planning or carrying out a burglary, even if you were waiting outside as a lookout and not the one who actually broke into the store, as long as you were in on the conspiracy if the main perpetrator is charged with burglary you will be too.
What To Do If You Are Charged
If you are charged with burglary, do not anger the arresting officer unnecessarily.
You will probably be held in jail overnight. At this stage, do not discuss what happened with the police or claim your innocence.
- As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.
If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.
- Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
- Much of what your lawyer can do to help you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case.
- You may not have entered the building to commit a crime. If so, your lawyer will gather the evidence or witnesses to prove it.
- The building you entered may have been abandoned. If it was, you lawyer will gather the evidence or witnesses to prove it.
Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney in PA Will Help
When you are up against a burglary charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania Burglary Law
Burglary is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 33. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.