In simple terms, burglary means breaking into some place with the intent of committing another crime. In Colorado, there are three degrees of burglary, with charges ranging from a Class 5 Felony to a Class 2 Felony, depending on the circumstances of the crime. When burglary is committed with the intention of stealing controlled substances from a pharmacy or some other place where they are held legally, the penalty is more severe than otherwise. Additionally, when a burglary is committed in a dwelling, someone's home, as opposed to some other building, the penalty is more severe. Finally, habitual offenders face the potential of double the term in jail. While one may think of burglary as breaking into a home or business, breaking into a locker, safe, or other locked property may also be considered burglary. It is extremely important to understand that conviction on burglary charges requires a factor that is not mandatory in many other criminal charges: intent. Someone who enters a place illegally, but without intending to commit another crime is not guilty of burglary. If you have been charged with burglary, protecting your rights immediately is of vital importance. Contact the Denver criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices right away to discuss your options.
1st Degree Burglary
A person who commits first degree burglary enters a building or occupied space illegally with the intention of committing another crime against people or property. However, they also assault or menace someone in the process OR possess or use a deadly weapon or explosive at the time. The keys to making the crime “first degree” are the weapon, explosives, or assault. Generally speaking, an unarmed burglar, who does not have contact with anyone during commission of the burglary, would not be charged with first degree burglary. This crime is typically charged as a Class 3 Felony, which carries the potential for 4-12 years in prison. However, if the burglary was committed with controlled substances as the target, it can be charged as a Class 2 Felony, with a presumptive range of 8-24 years. Anyone charged with 1st degree burglary should contact a Denver criminal defense law firm immediately.
2nd Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary is committed when someone illegally enters a building with the intent to commit another crime against people or property, but no weapon was used and no assault was committed. Generally, second degree burglary is a Class 4 Felony, carrying a presumptive range of 2-6 years, but may be charged as a Class 3 Felony if the building is a dwelling, or if the target of the burglary is a controlled substance.
3rd Degree Burglary
Third degree burglary involves breaking into a locker, safe, cash register, vending machine, or other locked property that is not a free-standing building, with the intention of committing a crime, usually theft. Third degree burglary is a Class 5 Felony, with the potential for 1-3 years in prison, unless the object is a controlled substance, in which case the charge may be a Class 4 Felony.
Once again, the important aspect of each of these crimes is intent. There is also a charge of possession of burglary tools. Again, intent is a key part of the crime. In order to obtain a conviction for burglary, it is necessary for the prosecutor to prove that the person INTENDED to commit another crime. Absent this intent, the offense is likely to be some other, less severe offense, such as trespassing. In the case of possession of burglary tools, with no intent, there is no crime.
If you have been charged with burglary in Colorado, contact an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. As a former Boulder County prosecutor, Steven Louth understands how prosecutors attempt to prove intent in burglary cases, which gives him a unique perspective on creating a reasonable doubt, in order to obtain an acquittal. In some cases, he may be able to have charges dismissed entirely without going to trial. If you have been charged with a crime, you need an aggressive, zealous defense. Contact Steven Louth Law Offices today at (303)422-2297.