What are the penalties for a burglary conviction?
In most cases, burglary is a first-degree felony. However, it is a second-degree felony if the building that you entered was not a home, did not allow for overnight accommodations, and was unoccupied at the time of the entry. However, if you entered an unoccupied building for the purpose of stealing drugs, then it will be charged as a first-degree felony. If you are convicted of first-degree felony burglary, you will face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you are convicted of second-degree felony burglary, you will face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
A first-degree burglary conviction will also count as one strike under Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law. If you have two prior strikes for violent crimes, your conviction could result in a sentence of a minimum of 25 years up to life in prison.
Other charges in burglary cases
If the crime that you intended to commit when you entered the building or home was another first- or second-degree felony, you could be charged and sentenced for that separate offense as well. However, if you entered a building or home with the intent to commit a lesser offense, you will not be sentenced for that crime in addition to the burglary offense. If you did intend to commit a first- or second-degree felony at the time that you entered the home or building, you could be sentenced for both offenses. The judge could order the sentences to be served consecutively, greatly increasing the length of your potential sentence.
Defenses to burglary in Pennsylvania
Even if you are charged with burglary, you may have several defenses available to you. Your lawyer will discuss what happened with you and explain the legal options that might be available.
The burglary statute lists a few defenses, including the following:
- The home or building was abandoned.
- The building was open to the public.
- The defendant had permission to enter.
In addition to these statutory defenses to burglary, there might be other defenses available to you. For example, if you were charged a long time after the burglary happened, your lawyer might challenge any eyewitness identification that was used to secure your arrest and charge you. Other defenses might include having an alibi or lacking the intent to commit a different crime. In the latter case, your lack of intent to commit a crime might not be enough to avoid charges. However, it could result in a reduction of your charges to a criminal trespass instead of a burglary.