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A serious and not always fully understood offense is burglary.

The public conception of burglary is someone breaking into a house or business to steal stuff.  Indeed, that is a part of the burglary offense, but it is not the full range of the burglary offense.  While a person doing that would have committed a burglary offense, there are other ways that one can commit burglary.

Degrees of Burglary

Let us start with the degrees of burglary.  

First degree burglary involves a dwelling.  A dwelling is designed or intended for occupancy for residential use.  It can include a house, a camper or trailer, a recreational vehicle, converted bus, watercraft, aircraft or other structure designed for use as a dwelling.

Second degree burglary involves non-dwelling structures.

Elements of Burglary

 The first degree burglary statute states:

A person commits the offense of burglary in the first degree when, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he or she enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another. 

Let's break this out a little bit.


First, there must be an intent to commit a felony or a theft in the structure.  So, any felony will do.  It does not have to be a theft.  For this reason, you will see many defendants charged with an offense like rape or aggravated assault or murder may also be charged with burglary if they entered a structure.


The person must enter or remain in the structure.  

Without Authority

The entry into the structure must be without authority.  Alternatively, the remaining in the structure must be without authority.  That is the person must not have the permission of the person in control of the structure.

Completion of the Felony or Theft is Not Required

The State does not have to prove that the person accomplished the theft or the intended felony.  The entry or the staying without authority is enough

Punishments for Burglary

Residential burglary (1st degree) is punishable on a first offense by 1 to 20 years in prison.  Second offenses carry 2 to 20 years, and third and subsequent offenses carry 5 to 25 years.

Commercial burglary (2nd degree) is punishable on a first offense by 1 to 5 years.  Second and subsequent convictions carry 1 to 8 years.

Sentences for fourth and subsequent convictions cannot be suspended, probated, deferred or withheld.


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