Burglary

What is Burglary?

Burglary generally involves a person entering and/or remaining in another person's property with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property. There are, however, three types of burglary in the State of Washington. They are: burglary in the first degree, burglary in the second degree, and residential burglary. All are considered felonies and are punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine.

Burglary in the First Degree:

According to RCW §9A.52.020, a person may be charged with burglary in the first degree if a person:

  • (1) Unlawfully enters and/or remains in another person's property
  • (2) With the intent to commit a crime against a person or his property; AND
  • (3) While entering or remaining in the property the actor or his accomplice is either (a) armed with a deadly weapon, OR (b) assaultsassaults a person.

This does not only include entering a home or other structure, but may also involve a car, boat or other such property.

Penalties for Burglary in the First Degree in Washington:

Burglary in the first degree is a class A felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison, a maximum fine of $50,000, or both. The court may require restitution instead of a fine.

Burglary in the Second Degree:

According to RCW §9A.52.030RCW §9A.52.030, a person may be charged with burglary in the second degree if a person:

  • (1) Unlawfully enters and/or remains in another person's property OTHER THAN a vehicle or dwelling
  • (2) With the intent to commit a crime against a person or his property.

Penalties for Burglary in the Second Degree in Washington:

Burglary in the second degree is a class B felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $20,000, or both. The court may require restitution instead of a fine.

Residential Burglary:

According to RCW §9A.52.025, a person may be charged with residential burglary if a person:

  • (1) Unlawfully enters and/or remains in another person's dwelling OTHER THAN a vehicle
  • (2) With the intent to commit a crime against a person or his property.

Penalties for Residential Burglary in Washington:

Residential burglary is a class B felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $20,000, or both. The court may require restitution instead of a fine. It is important to note that, even though residential burglary is in the same class as burglary in the second degree, it is considered a more severe offense.

Defending a Burglary Charge:

There are many defenses to a burglary charge. Of course, your defense strategy depends upon the degree of the offense, among other things. However, there are two basic elements involved in all burglary offenses: (1) unlawful entry upon a person's property and (2) an intent to commit a crime against a person or property. Therefore, one of the basic ways to defend a burglary charge is to challenge either of these elements. For example, you may argue that you did not, in fact, enter another person's property; that you entered but your entry was lawful; or that you entered, maybe even unlawfully, but that you did not enter with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property. Your defense strategy is crucial, and the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.

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