A prosecutor can charge a burglary offense if someone allegedly enters a building without permission with the intent to commit a crime. The person who enters the building does not need to have committed a crime; the intent to commit a crime while in a building without permission is enough to support a burglary charge.
Burglary charges are serious and can carry severe penalties, which is why a savvy theft attorney is a valuable tool to have. If you are facing this charge, you need a Hennepin County burglary lawyer to stand up for you.
Elements of a Burglary in Minnesota
To convict someone of a crime, a prosecutor must prove the essential elements. The crime of burglary has two essential elements that must be proven in all cases, although a more serious burglary might also have other elements to prove as well.
The first element of burglary is entry into a building without permission. Traditionally, people think of burglars as breaking into a home at night, but it is not necessary for a person to force entry. Gaining access to a building through false pretenses, or staying after a building has closed, could also support the element of entry without permission.
The second element common to all burglary charges is that the person must intend to commit a crime once they have gained entry into the building. The person need not enter with the intent to commit a crime—if they decide to commit the crime only after entering, then that is sufficient to support a burglary charge. They also do not need to successfully commit the crime in order for the charge to stand. A local burglary lawyer could help someone prove that there was no intent to commit a crime and/or that they had permission to be in the building.
Degrees of Burglary
The various burglary crimes are set forth in Minnesota Statute Minnesota Statutes § 609.582. In general, the severity of a burglary charge depends on the type of building the person allegedly entered and whether physical force or the threat of force was used on another person.
The crime of fourth-degree burglary is an entry into a building without permission and with the intent to commit a misdemeanor other than theft while in the building. Actual commission of a misdemeanor other than theft is also fourth-degree burglary. Conviction can lead to up to one year in prison and a fine that cannot exceed $3,000.
A person commits third-degree burglary if they enter a building without permission and commit, or intend to commit, the crime of theft or some other felony or gross misdemeanor while in the building. A person who is convicted of third-degree burglary faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Entering any building without permission, with intent to commit a crime, and while in possession of burglary tools, is second-degree burglary. In addition, the crime is second-degree burglary if the building the person allegedly enters without permission is a:
- Dwelling, which could mean a home, hotel room, dormitory, camper, ice fishing shack, or any other structure meant to provide shelter to people
- Bank or other business that receives or stores money or securities
- Pharmacy or other place that legally stores controlled substances
If the building is a bank or a pharmacy, the entry must have been forced in order to support a second-degree burglary charge. Conviction carries a ten-year prison term and a $10,000 fine. A Hennepin County burglary attorney could also help a defendant dispute whether or not an item in their possession is considered a “burglary tool.”
Entering a dwelling without permission while it is occupied with intent to commit a crime is first-degree burglary if the person allegedly possessed a weapon, or allegedly assaulted the dwelling’s occupants or someone near the dwelling. A person who is convicted of first-degree burglary faces a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine that cannot exceed $35,000.
Defend Your Rights with a Hennepin County Burglary Attorney
If you have been charged with burglary, you need an advocate to challenge the prosecution’s case. There are multiple elements they must prove, and any of them could be disputed with the aid of a Hennepin County burglary lawyer.
If the prosecutor has little proof of your presence or intent at the scene of the crime, it could be possible to have the charges reduced or dropped altogether. Call today to schedule an appointment.