A string of car break-ins and thefts may be coming to an end. Authorities have arrested one man after finding stolen property in his vehicle during a traffic stop. The man and his accomplice, who is still at large, entered unlocked vehicles and stole various items of value. Interestingly, the man in custody was on parole after serving time for another string of vehicle burglaries.
Robbery and Burglary
Although we tend to use the terms interchangeably, robbery and burglary are, in fact, different crimes. Robbery requires the use, or at least the threat of, force, while burglary requires unlawful entry to a vehicle or building. Both robbery and burglary do require the intent to steal or commit any form of felony, even if those crimes are not actually completed. Most break-ins and thefts which occur while the building or vehicle is unoccupied are burglaries.
First degree burglary is charged if the property entered is intended for use as a dwelling, while second degree burglary generally applies to non-residential structures. A “smash and grab” burglary involves the entry to and damage of a retail establishment, with damages totaling over $500.
Not only is it illegal to enter a home or vehicle without permission, but you may also be charged if you are found in possession of burglary tools. These may include explosives, lock picks, or any other item which would assist you in gaining entry to a home, vehicle, or other private property. It is important to note that these items must be shown to be for the purpose of committing a crime, rather than conducting business or other regular uses.
First degree burglary is a felony, which carries a prison sentence ranging from one to 20 years. The minimum sentence increases to two years upon a second conviction. Third and subsequent convictions increase the potential imprisonment term to between five and 25 years.
Burglary in the second degree is also a felony, though it is considered less severe. Therefore, the prison terms are shorter, at one to five years for the first conviction and up to eight years for any subsequent convictions.
Smash and grab burglaries are felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison, fines up to $100,000, or both.
Even if you cannot be shown to have actually committed a burglary, you may still be charged. Simply possessing tools for use in the commission of a crime can land you in prison for one to five years.
No matter what the degree of burglary, a judge generally has some leeway in assigning penalties. Criminal history, circumstances surrounding the burglary, and other factors may be taken into account. However, in fourth or subsequent convictions for any degree of burglary, the sentence cannot be suspended, deferred, or otherwise altered.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been accused of burglary or any other crime, do not wait to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law today and let us ensure your rights are protected. These felonies are serious charges that you should not face alone.