What is Burglary?
Previously, burglary was a crime that was distinguished as the act of breaking into a home at night and unlawfully entering it while intending to commit a crime. However, the laws have changed over the years in New Jersey and other states. These days, the only requirement for a person being charged with the crime of burglary is that they have unlawfully entered a home or other property without explicit permission from the owner or tenant.
The crime of home burglary is different from burglary. Home burglary occurs when a person enters a building in which someone lives without the resident’s consent. They must also have the intention of committing a crime. Home burglary does not necessarily require the perpetrator to break in. Even if they simply enter the home through an unlocked or open door or window rather than breaking into it, the individual can be charged with home burglary. However, even a person who legally enters a home and hides inside with the intent of committing a crime such as theft can be charged with home burglary. For example, if you ask a friend over to water your plants while you are away and they subsequently rummage through your jewelry box and steal a precious ring, they can be charged.
Additionally, to be charged with home burglary, any part of the individual’s body inside any part of the home can lead to an eventual conviction. If a person simply swings one leg into an open window and then reaches down to steal a cell phone on the floor, they can be charged with and convicted of home burglary. At the same time, a person doesn’t even need to actually steal an item as merely swinging their leg into the open window qualifies as home burglary. There doesn’t need to be an actual crime and the only requirement is that the individual intended to commit one.
Although intent is a challenge to prove, prosecutors have tools at their disposal for arguing their case in court. As a result, if you are arrested and charged with home burglary, it’s absolutely essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you.
Aggravated Home Burglary
The crime of burglary can be elevated to aggravated burglary if it was particularly severe. In the case of home burglary, a defendant can be charged with aggravated home burglary if the following has occurred:
• The defendant has inflicted or even attempted or threatened bodily harm on a person in the home
• The defendant was armed with a deadly weapon or explosive or displays what appears to be one or the other
Penalties for Home Burglary
If a person is convicted of home burglary, there are certain penalties they can expect to face. In most cases, the crime is charged as a felony in the third degree, which carries a three to five year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $15,000. However, if the crime is charged as aggravated home burglary, it’s elevated to a second degree charge. This carries a prison term of five to 10 years and a fine of as high as $150,000.
It’s important to note that home burglary cases are often charged as federal offenses in addition to being charged at the state level. For instance, if the individual entered the home with a gun, they can face federal weapons charges.
If this is the case for you or even if you suspect you may be federally charged as well, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney who has experience on both state and federal levels. With the right attorney on your side, it gives you more of an advantage in your case.