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What are the elements of burglary?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2023 | Criminal Law

Although many people confuse burglary with robbery or other theft offenses, it occurs when someone enters a property with the intent of committing a separate crime once inside. Under Indiana law, there are certain elements that comprise this charge.

Understanding the elements of burglary

Because of the serious nature of the charges, a person accused of burglary needs a solid criminal defense strategy. However, to prove someone has committed burglary, prosecutors must establish the presence of all the elements of the crime. The first is that the individual has unlawfully entered a building or structure without permission from the owner. This doesn’t have to include actually breaking in; even entering through an open door or window constitutes unlawful entry if the person lacks permission to be there.

The second element is the building or structure itself. It can be someone’s home, place of business, a vehicle or even another structure such as a garden shed or garage.

The third and final element of burglary is that the person intends to commit a separate crime once they are inside the building or structure. This can be anything from theft to vandalism to arson.

Types of burglary charges

Depending on the nature of the crime, there are different classifications of burglary charges. One of the least serious examples is that a person enters an empty home through an open window and steals a $20 bill the owner has left out in plain sight.

Second-degree burglary occurs when a person unlawfully enters a building or structure and commits a felony once inside. For example, two men break a window to enter a house and steal thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. Both have prior criminal histories, which increases the charges they might face if caught.

The most serious burglary charge is a first-degree felony. This can happen when the individual breaks into a building or structure with someone inside and uses force or threatens it with or without a deadly weapon.

Penalties for burglary convictions can range from two to 40 years in prison. In some cases, the court might also order restitution paid to the victim or victims.