A good defense lawyer will be able to mount a defense whether you’re facing federal or state charges. Some burglary cases will be tried on the state level, and some on the federal level. By contacting an experienced law firm, you can access lawyers with experience arguing both state and federal court cases.
If a prosecutor wants to convict a person of committing a vehicle burglary, they have to prove these points:
- You entered the vehicle of another person
- The owner did not give you permission to enter
- You had the intention of committing a theft or felony
Even if the car was unlocked, you can still be convicted of burglary if the prosecutor is able to prove all three of these things.
Many burglary allegations occur in situations where a person made a genuine mistake. They may have been confused about whether they were given the owner’s permission for entry, or they may have mistaken the car for one that belonged to a friend. Some vehicle owners may absentmindedly climb into a car of the same make and model as their vehicle when they exit a grocery store, only to discover their actual car is parked elsewhere in the lot.
Because of this, the element of intention is the hardest one for the prosecutor to prove. They need to find some way of proving that you internally decided to commit a crime. There’s no way for the prosecutor to read your mind, but they may gather evidence regarding your intentions. If you are charged with a vehicle burglary, it’s important to contact a defense attorney right away. They can help challenge the evidence and get misleading evidence thrown out.
All of these things need to be kept under consideration during the investigation proceedings:
- You can be convicted no matter which part of the vehicle you broke into.
- Putting just one body part inside the vehicle is enough to warrant a conviction.
- Putting an object you’re holding into the vehicle, like your keys or a flashlight, can also lead to a conviction.
- You can be prosecuted for entering the bed of a truck, or for touching something inside it.
- You do not have to commit a theft or any other crimes to be convicted of burglary.
- You cannot be prosecuted for burglary if you steal something on the exterior of the car, like a side mirror or tire. But you might be prosecuted with other statutes.
- If the car door is unlocked, you can still be convicted if you enter the car without permission and with criminal intention.
If you steal another individual’s vehicle, you can be subject to serious criminal prosecution. Police may charge you with a wide variety of different crimes on either the state or federal level.
If you unlawfully enter another person’s vehicle, the offense will usually be prosecuted at the state level. That changes if the vehicle is the property of the federal government. It also changes if you steal the vehicle while on federal property, at a federal institution, or interacting with a federal employee. Any of these circumstances can turn the offense into a federal court proceeding.
This might apply to federal services as well as federal agencies. For example, you could be prosecuted federally for burglarizing a National Parks vehicle or US mail truck. If you steal a federal vehicle, you may be prosecuted with charges of federal larceny and federal burglary. These cases come with huge potential penalties that tend to be much more severe than similar crimes at the state level.
If you’ve been charged with vehicle burglary, it’s important to talk to a defense lawyer who can explain your options.