Burglary Law Pennsylvania
Burglary is classified as a crime against property. A person is guilty of burglary if she or he enters a building illegally with the intent to commit a crime. In most cases, burglaries are charged as a first degree felony if the crime took place in someone’s home while it was occupied or if others were present at the time of the incident.
In Pennsylvania, the charge of burglary can have a defendant face first or second degree burglary. First degree burglary is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Second degree burglary (burglary where the structure is unoccupied at the time of offense) is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Unlike burglary, Breaking and Entering is a misdemeanor offense that’s applied to someone who breaks into a premise without proper license. Similarly, Criminal Trespass is a misdemeanor offense that occurs when someone enters a premise without a license, but without breaking and entering. Also similar, Defiant Trespass is a summary offense caused when a person enters upon the property of another despite warning against it.
Depending on the evidence of the crime, the court may reduce charges from Burglary to a lesser charge like these. It’s critical to have a defense team that understands the difference in these charges and can help craft a strategy that provides the smallest penalty.
Written by Attorney Michael Kotik
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Michael N. Kotik, Esq. (PA, NJ)