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Burglary: an often misunderstood criminal charge

Even many law school students fail when it comes to properly assessing whether a criminal charge of burglary makes sense in a given case.

Indeed, what is burglary?

Here’s a common perception as to what burglary entails: You stole something, so the burglary charge against you is appropriate.

Indeed, that might be true. Conversely, the charge might be flatly misapplied.

As we note at the established Colorado criminal defense firm of Shazam Kianpour & Associates, a successful burglary charge requires a threshold proof showing that a defendant broke into and entered a business or home to commit a crime.

It can get a bit murky after that. We duly note on our website that, “Most people are not clear what burglary really means.”

For starters, the above-cited defendant can still be charged with burglary even if he or she never actually steals anything or engages in other wrongdoing. It is the intent to commit crime that is important.

And then there is this: Burglary does not feature in any case where wrongful conduct occurs in a business when that entity is open. A person stealing something from a store during business stores can be charged with theft, but not burglary.

What if a person breaks into a business or home, but not for the purpose of committing crime (e.g., entering the wrong abode when intoxicated; seeking shelter in a storm)?

Again, lack of intent precludes a burglary charge.

Colorado prosecutors act aggressively when alleging burglary, with the state routinely seeking maximum criminal exactions. The multiple factors that must be considered relevant to a burglary charge often spell fertile grounds for a proven defense team seeking to secure best-case results for clients.

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