The Law Offices of Steven Louth
Burglary is a criminal charge that is very different from many other charges in that the idea of intent is a key factor in the crime. In plain English, burglary means illegally entering some place with the intention of then committing some other crime. It is important to understand that staying illegally at a place after originally entering legally could also subject someone to burglary charges. An example of this might be entering a store, and hiding so as to remain there after closing. The first part of the crime, the illegal entry, might be another, less serious crime on its own, such as trespassing. The intent to commit some other crime is the real key to burglary. In order to obtain a conviction for burglary, the prosecutor must prove that the person intended to commit another crime in the place. This means that, in many cases, the key to defending against burglary charges lies in creating doubt about that intent. Although there are three degrees of burglary in Colorado, with various circumstances that can affect the penalties, all three classes of burglary are considered felonies, which means that, if convicted, you could spend more than a year in prison. If you have been charged with burglary, or if you are under investigation for any criminal offense in Colorado, contact the experienced Boulder burglary defense lawyer at Steven Louth Law Offices immediately to protect your rights.
The Three Degrees of Burglary
When someone is charged with burglary, whether they are charged with 1st degree burglary, 2nd degree burglary, or 3rd degree burglary depends on the nature of the alleged crime. The biggest factors in this decision are the type of structure involved, and the use or lack thereof of a weapon. However, it is also important to note that when the intended crime is the theft of legally held controlled substances, the penalty automatically becomes more severe. A knowledgeable Boulder defense lawyer can help you understand what you are facing if you face burglary charges.
1st Degree Burglary
First degree burglary involves illegally entering, or staying illegally in, a building or occupied space with the intention of committing another crime. The other crime can be a crime against people, such as assault or it can be a crime against property such as theft or vandalism. There are several factors that must be present in 1st degree burglary:
Illegal entry into a building or occupied structure
Intent to commit another crime against people or property
One of two aggravating factors, either:
- The use or threat of a deadly weapon or explosive, OR
- An assault on a person while in the building or structure
When all three of these factors are present, 1st degree burglary may be charged. Typically, first degree burglary is charged as a Class 3 Felony, however when the object of the burglary is to steal controlled substances, it may be charged as a Class 2 Felony.
2nd Degree Burglary
The difference between 1st degree burglary and 2nd degree burglary is the third factor in 1st degree burglary above: the deadly weapon or assault. Generally, a person who breaks into a building with the intent to commit another crime, but uses no weapon and does not commit assault in the process, is commits 2nd degree burglary rather than 1st degree burglary. 2nd degree burglary is generally a Class 4 Felony. However, if the object of the burglary is a legally held controlled substance, or if the building involved is someone's residence, then it may be charged as a Class 3 Felony.
3rd Degree Burglary
Third degree burglary generally involves illegally entering a place that is not a building. Lockers, safes, cash registers, vending machines, and other similar items would be included in this charge. In some cases, a person might be legally present in a building, but illegally breaking into, for example, a vending machine. If the purpose of breaking into the vending machine is to steal it's contents, then the person commits third degree burglary. 3rd degree burglary is a Class 5 Felony, unless the object is of the burglary is to steal drugs, in which case it becomes a Class 4 Felony.
If you have been charged with burglary, or are under investigation for any crime, contact the dedicated, aggressive Boulder criminal defense lawyers at the law offices of Steven Louth right away to protect your rights. Steven and Zachary Louth have successfully defended countless Coloradans charged with Felony offenses in Boulder and along the front range. They understand that the first job of a Boulder defense attorney is to protect the rights of his clients. With previous experience as a Boulder County prosecutor, Steven possesses a unique insight into strategies for designing successful defense plans. For more information and a FREE CONSULTATION, contact Steven Louth Law Offices today at (303)442-2297.