Many people believe they understand all of the elements of a burglary charge, but the reality is that many myths exist and people often have an incorrect mental picture of what this crime looks like. It is important to break down these myths and truly understand the issues at hand, especially for those who are facing legal charges that they do not believe accurately represent what happened in the case.
Breaking into a structure
Many times, burglary is defined as breaking into a business or a home while intending to break the law. This is true, but it goes farther than that. You can face these charges for entering almost any structure. For instance, a school is neither a business nor a home. Neither is a church. You could face burglary charges after entering either one.
Understanding unlawful entry
When you think of unlawful entry, odds are you think of picking a lock, breaking a window or some other type of physical breaking and entering. Many burglaries do happen this way, but breaking and entering is not necessary. Say that a door is open to a building where the offender is not supposed to be. Just walking in through that door with the intent to commit a crime could be enough. This means that, depending on the situation, you may not get out of the charges just by arguing that the door was open and you did not have to force your way in.
Committing any crime
Perhaps the most common misconception is that burglary is the same as theft and involves taking items that do not belong to you. The truth is that you can face burglary charges for committing any crime after entering unlawfully — or intending to commit any crime. It’s not just theft. It’s not just larceny. These things are common, but other illegal acts can also bring about burglary charges.
Burglary vs. robbery
Another related crime often confused with burglary is robbery. For a robbery, you must use force or the fear of force in order to take someone’s property from them. A common example is showing up at a bank with a note that says you have a gun — whether you actually have a gun or not. With burglary, you generally do not use either force or fear because it’s most likely that there is no victim present when the crime takes place. People tend to unlawfully enter empty structures.
This should help you break down some of the most common myths and misconceptions. If you find yourself facing serious criminal charges, make sure you take the time to look into all of the legal rights and options that you have.