If you’ve been charged with burglary, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your Marietta, GA Attorney can help you understand the charge and develop a strong defense.
Georgia Law on Burglary
O.C.G.A. § 16-7-1 defines burglary as entering a structure or dwelling without permission “with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein.” In Georgia, the structures covered can be:
- Occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling or building
- Railroad car
- Other such structure designed for use as a dwelling
The law does not include open spaces, such as a yard. To “enter” does not mean that your entire body must enter the property. If you break a window and reach in to grab something, that counts as “entering.”
Georgia Law on Criminal Trespass
O.C.G.A. § 16-7-21 explains that a person commits criminal trespass when he or she knowingly and without permission “enters the land or premises or any part of a vehicle, railroad car, aircraft or watercraft” belonging to someone else for an unlawful purpose. A person can also commit criminal trespass if he or she has entered any of the above and has been given notice by the owner that such entry is forbidden or if the owner has asked the trespasser to depart.
Attorney Dean Phillips can determine if your burglary charges could be construed as criminal trespass.
Degrees of Burglary
Extenuating circumstances affect the degree of burglary committed such as type of dwelling (commercial or residential use), presence of people in the home or on the property, and the presence of a weapon or weapons.
• Burglary in the First Degree – entering a private dwelling or structure with the intent of committing a crime against the property or a person
• Burglary in the Second Degree – entering a commercial property or structure with the intent to commit theft
• Smash and Grab – entering a retail establishment without permission with the intent to commit a theft and causing damages of $500.00 or more
The penalties will vary in severity based on which degree of burglary and how many prior convictions you have had. Burglary in the first degree carries a stiff penalty of between one and 20 years in jail. If you’re convicted a second or third time, then your potential for jail time increases.
In Georgia, it’s also illegal to possess burglary tools or other items commonly used in the commission of a crime. A conviction carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.
Proving Burglary and Possible Defenses
The prosecution must show that you entered a structure without permission. He or she must prove that you also had intent (you entered the structure to commit a crime). The defendant does not have to commit the crime; intent alone matters.
Attorney Dean Phillips will help you construct the best possible defense for your situation. Some possibilities are:
- Establishing that you had permission to enter
- Showing that you were coerced into the situation
- Agreeing that you entered but had no intention of committing a crime (perhaps you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol)
- Establishing plausible doubt about the evidence
- Your age (13 and under cannot be found guilty of a crime)
- Mental incapacity
- Your conduct was justified (rescuing child or other emergency)
- Mistake of fact
Proving intent is a difficult job for prosecutors, which makes establishing a defense a job for a qualified Criminal Defense Attorney like Dean Phillips.
Attorney Dean Phillips has experience in all forms of burglary crimes in Cobb County, Paulding County, Cherokee County, Bartow County, Marietta, Smyrna, Woodstock, Dallas, and Cartersville.