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What is Aggravated Burglary?

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Learning to Protect Yourself: Laws Against Aggravated Burglary

Most laws are created to protect law-abiding citizens. Here in the United States, we have the right to feel safe in our homes, meaning that if someone illegally breaks into a home, without the permission of the homeowner, the intruder can face major legal consequences. In this article, we will discuss the differences between aggravated burglary, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, and third-degree burglary. Consequences for each type of burglary depend on the severity of the crime. Although laws may vary from state to state, burglary is always against the law. So, what’s the difference between aggravated burglary and second degree burglary? Keep reading to find out.

What is Aggravated Burglary? 1st Degree, 2nd Degree, and 3rd Degree Burglary explained. Gun, burglar, bat.

What is Aggravated Burglary?

Before we get to aggravated burglary, let's define burglary. Burglary is committed when a person decides to trespass on a property with the intent to steal. Burglary usually takes the form of someone breaking and entering a home without permission and stealing (or attempting to steal) something inside. Even if the offender is caught before they actually take anything, it is still considered burglary, or attempted burglary, depending on the state.

Aggravated burglary is the most serious type of burglary. It is classified as a criminal offense because the offender not only forces their way into a home, but they also cause another person physical harm.

Aggravated burglary is prosecuted separately from any other type of burglary because it involves harm to another person.

It's important to understand the difference between theft and burglary. Theft is when a person enters a building with permission and has the intent to steal. Theft is more common in commercial buildings like stores and gas stations. A thief walks into an area they already have access to, and takes something without paying. But as soon as a thief also attempts to break into a building, they are guilty of burglary. Remember, it doesn’t matter if the burglary was successful. When it comes to the law, the offender’s intent is what’s most important.

burglar holding a pistol with two hands

1st Degree Burglary

Like aggravated burglary, first degree burglary is considered a felony. To tell the difference between burglary charges, it’s important to define first degree burglary. First degree burglary covers a wide variety of charges. The Washington State Legislature defines first degree burglary as, “burglary with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building and if, in entering or while in the building or in immediate flight therefrom, the actor or another participant in the crime (a) is armed with a deadly weapon, or (b) assaults any person.” First class burglary is a class A felony. In some states, first degree burglary also encompasses aggravated burglary.

Laws about first degree burglary vary depending on the state where you live. Some states only require a three-year conviction while others states can convict a class B felony for 40 years in prison. According to the California Penal Code, burglary in the first degree is punishable by two, four, or six years in prison. In Connecticut, their penal law declares that first degree burglary is a class B felony, punishable by one to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. In Hawaii, burglary in the first degree and unauthorized entry in the first degree are class B felonies, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. All states are required to offer burglars a defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney will do their best to limit the conviction, making your job to bring enough evidence to make the jury see that the penalties for burglary are just.

To be charged with first degree burglary, a person must target residential housing. Other degrees of burglary will occur in other locations. However, since the United States treasures private property, the worst type of burglary will happen on residential property. If you have recently been a victim of burglary, your best move is to contact your local authorities and look for a burglary lawyer. Your attorney will offer legal advice to help you get the most out of the situation.

Burglar Holding Crowbar backlit by car lights.

So, what turns a criminal action from burglary to aggravated burglary? We’ve determined that if a person has the intent to break into a building and steal, the crime is burglary, regardless of whether the building is occupied. If we take the same scenario and change one thing, it will become aggravated burglary. Aggravated burglary is when a person unlawfully enters a building and inflicts harm or even threatens to inflict harm on another person. The offender could threaten harm on the way into the building, on the way out, or in the middle of breaking and entering. As soon as the person threatens or actually harms another person, the crime is aggravated burglary and is a class a felony. The offender will face significant penalties such as county jail time, criminal charges, and time in prison.

In West Salem, Ohio, on February 10th, 2020, a man was charged with “aggravated burglary, theft, aggravated trespass, breaking and entering, possession of drugs, carrying concealed weapons and criminal mischief,” according to Fox News. The man was caught in the backyard of a home, holding a pitchfork and threatening the homeowners. The homeowners were able to quickly take control of the situation, and no one was hurt, even though the homeowners were shaking after the encounter with the burglar. The burglar was unsuccessful and was unable to enter the home and steal. However, because he illegally entered the property, threatened to hurt the homeowners, and had the intent to steal from them, he was prosecuted for a variety of crimes. The meaning behind the burglar’s actions were against the law, and so he was convicted for that, and his sentence was secured. After prosecuting a burglar, authorities will check for an accomplice to ensure that they’re getting all people involved with the deception.

2nd Degree Burglary

First and second degree burglary vary only slightly. While first degree burglary is referred to as “residential burglary,” second degree burglary is referred to as “commercial burglary.” And, while first degree burglary often involves the threat of harm, second degree burglary does not. With all types of crime, it is hard to ever put one label on the intent and the offense. It is up to the law offices and the burglary attorney to make the final call on who can be convicted on felony charges and which actions will be a gross misdemeanor. Factors like criminal record, age, and reasonable doubt can affect what the criminal will face as their charges.

Second degree burglary is a non-violent burglary. However, even this can vary from state to state. For example, in Colorado, second degree burglary is when a criminal decides to enter a building. This includes any type of building (home, a store, or a warehouse), with the intent to commit a crime inside and leave with property that isn’t their own. As soon as someone is injured, the crime escalates to a first degree burglary. As soon as it is classified as first degree, the charges amplify.

Most burglaries, even second degree burglary, are felonies. In some states, the punishment for second degree burglary can be very lenient, and the criminal can face as little as one year in prison. States with lower charges for second degree burglary often classify the burglary as any type of burglary that is unarmed and non-violent. If the burglar is armed, the sentence will be significantly longer, usually over 25 years in prison. If you are charged with burglary wrongfully, your first action should always be to contact a law firm to get defenses for burglary. You will need a defense lawyer to fight any wrongful charges. There is no need to panic if you have been charged with wrongful burglary since the law will stay on your side unless you are proven guilty.

3rd Degree Burglary

Third degree burglary is less severe than other degrees of burglary. In fact, it is the least severe, depending on the burglary classifications in your state. Third degree burglary is when someone unlawfully forces entry into a fenced area, private property, residential yard, or non-residential structure. If a criminal enters an area with the intent to commit any type of crime (theft, burglary, or other felonies), the person can be convicted of a class c felony or a class d felony, depending on your state. The main defining feature of a third degree burglary is that there is no one present in the building when the person breaks and enters. However, a third degree burglary also includes breaking and entering into non-residential structures such as cars, boats, or other motor vehicles. If you break into a car using manipulation, deceit, a master key, or any other form of breaking and entering, you will be guilty of a felony.

An example of third degree burglary happened February 9th, 2020. A Warrenville man stole a trailer from his former employer. The new article from Aiken Standard reported, “Witnesses told deputies the suspect was stuck in the ditch on the property and was attempting to pull out his truck with a winch, the report states. The property owner was informed by the witnesses and discovered the winch the suspect was using came off the property owner’s car hauler trailer.” By stealing the car, the crime became third degree. Also, because the man wasn’t armed and didn’t threaten the owner of the property, the crime wasn’t considered as serious as a first degree burglary. Third degree burglary deals mostly with motor theft. The man was charged with third degree burglary charges as well as several other charges. He was sent to the country sheriff’s office.

Hallway of Prison Bars

Is Burglary a Felony?

In short, yes. Burglary is always a felony. A crime is generally considered a felony if the sentence for the crime is over a year. After conviction, additional punishments, including capital punishment, could be added to the criminal's offenses. A misdemeanor is a crime that is less than a felony. A felony is one of the highest crimes and can severely affect a person’s life long term.

Most types of burglaries are felonies. A first degree burglary is a class a felony. A second degree burglary is a class b felony. A third degree burglary is a class c felony or a class d felony, depending on the state where you live. If you or a loved one has been convicted of burglary wrongly, seek help.

Woman Trespassing Behind Fence With No Trespassing Sign On It

What is Trespassing?

As you seek answers to all of your questions related to burglary, we thought it might be important to answer the question: “What is trespassing?” To define it briefly, trespassing is when a person enters another’s property without permission. The state law will define trespassing differently, depending on where you live. However, most states agree that trespassing involves three main elements:

  • Purposefully entering or remaining on the property after told to leave
  • Entering someone else’s property
  • Stepping onto property without permission

If an instance has those three elements, the crime is trespassing. Recall of the instances that we have mentioned earlier in this article. The first instance was with a man who broke into the backyard of a couple’s home. Because the man was on the homeowner’s property without permission, the crime is criminal trespassing and the man was charged with trespassing, among other charges. Of course, the land has to be private property, or property that is privately owned. You cannot trespass in a park, for example. However, you can trespass on your neighbor’s property if your neighbor has told you to leave. In some states, private property may need to have no trespassing signs for the person to be fully prosecuted. In that case, the person has entered the property knowing the risks. If there are no signs on the property, the trespass lawyer could claim that the defendant being charged with a criminal offense did not know that they were entering the property. Perhaps they got lost. The law is tricky and an attorney can often find ways to avoid the penalties for trespassing.

In the second example, the example of second degree burglary, a man drove onto another’s property and stole. Because the person drove onto the property, he was trespassing on property that wasn’t his own. Because the land had trespassing signs, the criminal trespassing charges were easy to enforce and the trespasser had to deal with trespass charges. A police officer was easily able to take the man and hold him against trespass laws.

Trespassing is not an easy crime to get away with. If a person is caught trespassing, depending on the severity of the other crimes they are convicted for, a trespasser can spend days or years in jail. If you have been wrongfully accused of trespassing, contact your lawyer and build a trusting attorney-client relationship. Your attorney will help you gather evidence to contradict what the law enforcement officer might be attempting to lawfully prove. Remember that, as long as you’re innocent, the law is on your side.

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Burglaries?

Proactively protecting yourself is the best thing that you can do to prevent a burglary on your property. Rather than focusing on the after effects of a burglary, like getting an attorney and defense lawyer, focus on what you can do to prevent the burglary from happening in the first place. In this last section, we will share with you the top ways to deter burglars from targeting your house.

First, install a home security system. A home security system can do wonders for your home security. Countless studies will confirm the importance of having a home security system. Having home security can protect your home and deter criminals from targeting your house. When you have a system installed, burglars are less likely to target your home because having a home security system makes it harder for a burglar to get into your home. Burglars look for easy targets.

Second, keep your trees and hedges trimmed and taken care of. Burglars want to target homes that are hidden from the road. They want to be able to slip in and out of a location without getting caught. If your property can be easily seen from the road and has few escape routes, a burglar is less likely to target you.

Fence in your property. Like we mentioned with the home security systems, burglars look for easy targets. If your property is [fenced, a burglar will have to use more effort to get into your property. If they have to use more effort, they are less likely to try to get into your property.

Protecting your property is about protecting your home and making it harder for people to get in. Installing home security with door sensors, motion detectors, and window sensors, as well as keeping a dog, or putting up a fence can keep people out.

If a burglar makes it past all other forms of defense, installing indoor security camera's are a valuable tool to record the crime, providing evidence to identify the criminal in order to throw them behind bars, as well as providing proof for your insurance company so damages and losses can be covered.

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