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Defending You Against Burglary Charges in Colorado

Most people are not clear what Burglary really means. In simple terms: Burglary is the breaking into, and entering the business or home of someone else with the intent to commit a crime in that place. All burglary charges in Arapahoe, Adams, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson County and the rest of Colorado, are considered serious felonies.

What Does the Law Consider to be Burglary?

You don’t have to steal something to be charged with burglary in Colorado. Often just breaking in to your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend’s house or apartment with intent to vandalize their home, or maybe scare or harass them is enough. We see a lot of instances of course where someone may break into a business in order to steal something.

For example, John breaks into a hardware store in order to steal a lawn mower. He gets to his house and the police are waiting. What will he be charged with? Well, for starters, he will be charged with a class four felony (F4) of burglary of a business. John will also be charged with theft of the lawn mower. The theft is the crime that John intended to commit once he broke in. Therefore a burglary is charged. How does that change if John was not intending to commit a crime when he broke in?

In our second example, John breaks into the same hardware store in order to get out of the cold. He sleeps on the floor overnight and is woken by the manager coming in to open the shop in the morning. Is that burglary? No, it is the crime of criminal trespass, which is a completely different type of felony, but it is not considered burglary.

In our third example, John walks into the store when the doors are open during regular business hours. He sees nobody is watching, he seizes the opportunity, and runs out with a lawnmower. Is that burglary? No, in this third example, John will be charged with Theft only. If the lawnmower is an expensive one, then John could be charged with felony Theft, but that is still not considered a Burglary since there was no “breaking and entering” into the business, since the business was open and the doors were not locked.

Is Possession of Burglary Tools a Crime in Colorado?

Possession of Burglary Tools charge  is a class 5 felony (F5) and can carry serious consequences including a permanent felony record, and anywhere from one to three years of prison (DOC) with a mandatory parole term of two years. This crime is charged more than you would think and often times the person charged may just be carrying some screwdrivers, some wire snips, or a crowbar. Am I saying that carrying those items is illegal? Well, according to Colorado law, if you are carrying a tool commonly used for facilitating a forcible entry into a premises, or forcible theft by a physical taking, then you can be charged with Possession of Burglary Tools.

Most often, it is not so much the fact that the tools are on your person (since almost anybody in construction, electric work, or repair of machinery would have these) rather it is the fact that you are somewhere you probably shouldn’t be at the time of day where you may not have a very good excuse for being there. At Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C., our Denver burglary lawyers have seen this crime charged most frequently in places like construction yards, junk yards, or gated lots where there are materials and resources like copper wiring, metals, or recyclable items.

So What Exactly is First-Degree Burglary?

Burglary in the First Degree is when a person breaks and enters a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime therein, and they took a weapon with them and used or tried to use the weapon in the commission of the crime. Believe it or not, this is a new and better burglary law in Colorado than before. Previously, just having the weapon (gun, knife, bat, etc.) on your person was enough for this serious charge. In a refreshing change of pace, the Colorado legislature has actually changed the law to state that not only must the person have a weapon, but they must also have tried to use it in the actual commission of the crime. This means if you had a weapon on you, but nobody knew, and you did not brandish it or try to use it, then in theory law enforcement should charge a lower level burglary than First-Degree Burglary.

I am Charged with Second-Degree Burglary; am I Going to Prison?

This may be the most common question we are asked and the answer is based on a whole host of factors. First and foremost it is important to note that Second-Degree Burglary of a (nonresidence) building is usually charged as a class 4 (F4) felony in Colorado and that it presumptively carries a potential prison sentence of two to six years with a mandatory three-year parole term (if the court decides to sentence you to DOC). If the building that is broken into is a house, home, or residence, then the Second-Degree Burglary is charged as the much more serious class 3 (F3) felony and the potential prison sentences are now doubled. In other words, F3 Burglary in the Second-Degree in Colorado carries with it from four to 12 years in prison and a mandatory five-year parole term.

What Are the Penalties for Third-Degree Burglary?

Burglary in the Third Degree charges are more common these days, as the recession and unemployment have made it harder on folks to get by and make ends meet. Sometimes it is a simple case of some teenagers at a high school knocking over or breaking into the soda machine to get change and to have some old-fashioned fun vandalizing it. Don’t do it! If you do commit the act, then you should take this charge very seriously since it is considered a felony in Colorado.

Third-Degree Burglary in Denver, Larimer, Gilpin, or any other county in Colorado is considered a class 5 (F5) felony and can carry with it a presumptive sentence of one to three years in prison with a mandatory three-year term of parole. If you are on felony probation or felony bond for another case, then the crime is considered aggravated and you can receive as much as 6 years in prison (DOC).

Many times when we see this charge filed, Criminal Mischief charges are filed with it. If the damage to the cash register, vending machine, or equipment is expensive enough, then your Criminal Mischief may be charged as a felony! What should you do? Well, first, don’t speak with the police; they are not there to help you. Secondly, call our office for a free consultation.

What Is Criminal Trespassing?

Our state’s laws say that if you are on or in property that you should not be in, or you are asked to leave and you do not, that you can be charged with different types of criminal trespass in Colorado. There are three (3) main types of criminal trespass charges and they range from serious felony criminal trespass (such as breaking into a motor vehicle), to the relatively less significant Petty Offense 1 Criminal Trespass (such as simple entry or remaining on the premises of another).

What Does Law Enforcement Look For?

It is important to understand that Colorado prosecutors look for the “breaking and entering” to occur, and then they look for “the intent to commit a crime once inside” to occur as well before they decide that a Burglary should be charged. This is just an example, but it helps illustrate how burglary is a very specific crime. Due to the serious effects that burglaries in Colorado can have on the cost of business, and the emotional impact they have in citizens when it occurs to them in their homes, the courts have made prison sentencing on burglaries a very real possibility even for first time offenders.

Contact Us Today to Get the Help You Need

If you are charged with burglary in Douglas County, Denver County, Jefferson County, or any other county in Colorado, it is very important that you consider meeting with and hiring an experienced burglary lawyer in Colorado. At Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C., we have handled countless burglary charges. We are Colorado burglary attorneys, and we understand what is at stake for you. Give us a call for a free consultation at 720-407-2582 today so that we can begin your defense and give you some valuable legal advice on your Colorado burglary case today.