Generally, burglary involves unlawfully entering into a place belonging to another with the intent to commit an offense while there. Oklahoma's laws define three degrees of burglary, which are categorized in terms of their severity. In this blog, we'll explore the distinction between the offenses.
Breaking and Entering
Regardless of the degree of burglary, they each contain a common element: breaking and entering. Now, we say "a common element," but, although frequently used together, breaking and entering are separate actions.
"Breaking" means using some type of force to remove an obstruction that blocks entry into a place. For instance, throwing a rock into a window or using a tool to wedge a door open.
The statute concerning first-degree burglary list specific "breaking" actions. These include:
- Forcibly bursting or breaking part of the structure;
- Breaking into the structure while armed with a dangerous weapon; and
- Picking a lock, using a false key, turning a latch, or opening a window
The other common element of burglary offenses is "entering." A person is considered to enter a place if any part of their body is within that structure. Thus, the alleged offender did not have to be completely in the building for them to have entered it. In cases where a tool was used to further the offense, simply inserting it into the obstruction can satisfy the "entering" definition.
Breaking and entering aren't the only elements of burglary. Let's explore the others and how they differentiate the degrees of the offense.
The Location of the Burglary
The next elements of burglary are where the offense occurred and whether anyone was present at the time.
The degree of burglary is determined as follows:
- First-degree: The offense occurred at a dwelling (a place where people lodge) where at least one other person was present.
- Second-degree: The offense occurred at a dwelling where no one else was present. Or it happened at a commercial building, room, booth, tent, structure, or area within a building.
- Third-degree: The offense occurred in a car, truck, trailer, vessel, or other vehicle.
The Intent of the Offense
Another element that distinguishes the degrees of burglary is the alleged offender's intent. What was their purpose for breaking into the dwelling, structure, or vehicle?
For first-degree burglary, intent includes committing any crime while in the dwelling. The intended offense does not have to be theft or a felony.
Second- and third-degree burglary occur when the intent was to steal something or commit a felony.
The Consequences of Burglary
Because first-degree burglary is considered a more serious offense than the other two, it carries harsher punishments.
The potential conviction penalties for the three degrees of burglary include:
- First-degree: Between 7 and 20 years of imprisonment
- Second-degree: Up to 7 years of imprisonment
- Third-degree: Up to 5 years of imprisonment
The penalties burglary are severe, and if you've been charged with this offense or any theft crime, our Norman, OK attorneys can provide the defense you need. Call Law Offices of Keith J. Nedwick, P.C. at (866) 590-8173 or contact us online today.