Burglary refers to the act of breaking into and entering another person’s property, unlawfully with the intention to commit a crime. Building a strong defense against burglary with an attorney is essential, especially because burglary is often considered a felony. This guide will walk you through some factors everybody should know about burglary charges.
Degrees of Burglary in Minnesota
In Minnesota, burglary charges come in four degrees. The degree of the charge depends on several factors involved.
First degree burglary is considered the most serious of the charges. This occurs when an individual is charged with entering a building unlawfully when somebody else is inside the building. It may also apply if the defendant is accused of possessing a dangerous weapon or assaulting somebody inside the building.
Second degree burglary may occur when an individual unlawfully enters a home, bank, or pharmacy. It may also apply to cases in which an individual uses a tool to gain access to property.
In a case of third degree burglary, an individual is accused of entering a property to commit either a felony or gross misdemeanor.
Fourth degree burglary occurs when an individual commits or attempts to commit a misdemeanor inside a home, unless that misdemeanor is theft.
Minnesota’s Punishments for Burglary
In Minnesota, a first degree burglary conviction is punished with up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $35,000. Conviction for second degree burglary may result in up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $20,000. A third degree burglary conviction may result in up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Sentencing for a fourth degree burglary charge may result in one year of jail time and a fine of up to $3,000.
Defense Tactics for Burglary Charges
Your criminal defense attorney will use one or several techniques to defend your rights in court.
Innocence Defense – This is the most basic defense and requires that the defense argue that the individual charged did not commit the acts. Since the prosecution has the burden of proof, this defense is often used in cases lacking physical evidence. Innocence is often argued by calling evidence into question and presenting an alibi.
Affirmative Defense – This defense argues that while the defendant did participate in the alleged behavior, it is not necessarily a crime. This works by claiming the defendant did not enter unlawfully, did not have a weapon, or did not intend to commit a crime on the property. For instance, perhaps the defendant had permission from the owner to enter the premises.
Mistake of Fact Defense – In some cases, a defendant believed that he or she had permission to enter property. Even if the permission had been revoked, it is possible that the jury can find this belief, even if erroneous, to be reasonable enough to acquit. The defense may also argue that the individual charged with the crime may have thought he or she had permission to take certain items from the property.
Voluntary Intoxication Defense – Voluntary intoxication may be a defense against the intention to commit a crime on the property.
Lack of Intent Defense – In some cases, a crime may have occurred based on impulse rather than on intent. Since burglary cases often rest on the implication of intent, some defendants may argue that burglary did not occur.
Entrapment Defense – The defense may argue that the individual in question was entrapped, convinced to commit a crime he or she would not have committed otherwise. This is one of the more difficult defenses, but adequate representation and evidence may help to strengthen the case.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney to Fight Burglary Charges
If you are facing burglary charges, a strong defense is a necessity. You have the legal right to defend yourself in court, and a criminal defense attorney is your best bet in receiving a favorable outcome. If you or a loved one has been charged with burglary, contact us to learn more about your legal defense options.
The information presented in this article is not considered legal advice. Please contact our law office to speak to an attorney about your case.