Burglary is a serious crime. Many people confuse “burglary” and “theft,” but they are not the same thing. The crime of theft covers the taking of objects. Burglary specifically refers to entering a building to commit some other crime inside.
In Utah, burglary is a felony. If you are convicted of burglary in Draper, UT, the consequences will follow you for the rest of your life. The conviction might make employers hesitant to hire you. Additionally, a burglary conviction is separate from a conviction for any crime committed during the burglary, so you might be penalized for burglary and another crime.
Call our burglary defense lawyers at Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 to confidentially review your case.
Definition of Burglary in Draper, UT
To a layperson, the term “burglary” will likely conjure up images of someone in a ski mask smashing a house window at night to try and steal some valuables. The reality is that the criminal offense of burglary covers a much wider range of conduct than stealing valuables. Once you enter a building intending to commit another crime inside, you have committed burglary.
Importantly, burglary should not be confused with robbery. Sometimes, the two crimes are used interchangeably in common conversation. Robbery involves the use of force or intimidation against a person, whereas burglary is the act of entering or remaining in a building with the intent to commit a felony therein. For example, you can rob someone in a back alley but cannot commit burglary in an alley because there is no building to enter.
Breaking and Entering
Utah Code § 76-6-202 defines burglary as the act of entering or remaining in a building or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime therein. A “dwelling” is a legal term for any place where somebody lives, and burglaries in dwellings have harsher penalties.
Entering and remaining unlawfully does not just refer to the most obvious examples of smashing a window or picking a lock to get inside a building. If the victim left the door to their house unlocked and the suspect simply opened the door to get in, they have still unlawfully entered the building.
Crimes Inside the Building
Any felony committed or attempted after entering the building unlawfully will potentially lead to burglary charges that our burglary defense lawyers can help with.
Utah Code § 76-6-202(2) lists some specific crimes and other conduct in its burglary statute, including theft, assault, lewdness, voyeurism, and sexual battery. A burglary conviction is separate from a conviction for any of the crimes.
Penalties for Burglary in Draper, UT
Penalties for burglary differ depending on the crime attempted or committed during the burglary, with more serious crimes having more serious burglary penalties. All burglaries are felonies under Utah law. A felony conviction has serious consequences beyond the legal penalties attached, as many businesses do not employ felons. Additionally, you might have difficulty getting loans and will be prohibited from owning a firearm.
Third Degree Felonies
The minimum charge for burglary is a third-degree felony charge. This is the standard level of charge for a burglary offense.
Third-degree felonies in Utah have a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Second Degree Felonies
Burglaries are automatically upgraded to second-degree felonies if they happen in a dwelling. A dwelling is a place where someone lives and intends to return again. For example, it is a second-degree felony to break into someone’s house and steal a vase.
Second-degree felonies in Utah can result in one to 15 years in prison and fines reaching $10,000.
Certain circumstances can increase burglary to a first-degree felony. Any burglary resulting in bodily injury to someone who is not a participant in the crime, involves the use of a dangerous weapon or the threat thereof, or involves the possession or attempted use of explosives or a dangerous weapon, according to Utah Code § 76-6-203, is automatically upgraded to a first-degree felony. An example of aggravated burglary would be breaking into a warehouse to steal from the place and assaulting the night guard with a baseball bat.
First-degree felonies can result in life imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000.
Burglary Defenses in Draper, UT
Burglary convictions must meet several requirements. If any of these requirements are missing from your case, you cannot be found guilty of burglary. Alternatively, certain circumstances allow charges against you to be reduced.
For a burglary charge to stick, you need to have entered the building unlawfully. For example, it is very unlikely that you unlawfully entered your own house or apartment building. Similarly, if your friend invited you into their house for a party, you certainly entered their dwelling, but not unlawfully.
Unlawful entry does not necessarily mean forceful entry. If someone leaves their front door unlocked and you go into their house to steal something, you have still entered unlawfully, even though you didn’t smash their window or pick the lock on the door. Additionally, even if you were let in lawfully if you intend to commit a crime inside, it is still burglary. For example, it is burglary if you are welcomed into a store and let inside but intend to shoplift.
Additionally, you must know that the entry and your presence in the building are unlawful. If you accidentally enter someone else’s house, you might not know your entry was unlawful.
One of the key elements of a burglary charge is intent. Simply put, the suspect must intend to commit a crime when they enter the house or building to be convicted of burglary. Forming the intent to commit a crime after entering the building is also illegal if you stay there after forming the intent.
If you accidentally enter someone else’s house or apartment building thinking it is your own, and the owner calls the cops on you, you cannot be convicted of burglary because you did not intend to commit a crime in their dwelling.
Even if your burglary charge can not be done away with entirely, it might be possible to downgrade the seriousness of the charge.
For example, if you are charged with an aggravated burglary that resulted in serious bodily injury, it needs to be proven that you caused the injuries. If the court cannot prove that, the charge will be reduced to ordinary burglary.
A plea agreement can also result in a downgraded charge. In a plea agreement, you admit guilt to the prosecutor in exchange for a more lenient sentence. In the context of burglary, the charge could be downgraded to criminal trespass, which is only a misdemeanor. It is important to speak with your lawyer before considering this option.
Call Our Burglary Defense Lawyers To Discuss Your Case
Get in touch with our burglary defense lawyers at Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 to discuss your case.