Burglary is generally defined as the illegal or unauthorized entry of an individual to a building, residence or other premises to commit an illegal offence. Burglary can also be called “breaking and entering” in some circumstances. State laws often have different methods in handling burglary cases. The same can be said for their respective punishment.
In burglary cases, circumstances of the crime will determine whether the burglary is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. States define the severity of the crime as first degree, second degree and third degree. The first degree is considered the most severe and the third degree as the less severe offense. Here’s an explanation of the difference between 1st and 2nd degree burglary in Orange County.
Circumstances to Consider
In the US, there are federal laws and state laws that govern how cases are defined; therefore, there might be some differences on definition as well as the punishment of the crime depending on the state laws that prevail in that jurisdiction. The intent of a person committing the crime of burglary may alter the crime that that person will be charged of. For example, entering a residence forcefully and unlawfully to confront the person residing the house may only result to a charge of home invasion, however, if you are found to be carrying a deadly weapon like a knife or gun, then that can immediately be a felony charge.
In some states, the time of committing burglary may also alter the corresponding punishment. A burglary committed on daylight is called housebreaking and falls under the second degree burglary. On the other hand, burglary committed on nighttime, nighttime defined as 30 minutes before the sun rises and 30 minutes after the sun sets, is considered a more serious crime and therefore has a more severe punishment.
Burglary is often charged to a person even if the crime it was intending to do was not accomplished. It is called an “inchoate” crime as it is a crime done in order to do a different crime like vandalism, rape, murder, theft or other crimes. But burglary is considered a crime in itself and should be punishable because the personal security of a person has been disturbed when the unlawful, unpermitted and/or forceful entry has been made.
Courts are often lenient on punishing burglary offenders. This is especially true if the offender is a minor and/or a first time offender with no criminal record. Punishment for third degree misdemeanor burglary charges are often reduced to probation and fines with some mandatory completion of rehabilitation programs. The circumstances of the crime are often considered in deciding the punishment for burglary charges. Mitigating and aggravating factors of the crime are both measured and considered to decide a fair and just punishment. Punishment usually includes prison time and fines. Prison time can be as short as one year in some states with a maximum of 5 to 7 years for third degree burglary cases. The maximum sentences are often given to repeat offenders. For second degree burglary charges, prison time may range from 1 to 15 years, while first degree burglary charges can range from 1 to 25 years.