Today I’m going to talk to you about burglary charges. Burglary is a felony or indictable level offense which means it will be handled at the county in which you are charged. Burglary can be a second or third-degree crime depending on the circumstances. A second-degree crime is punishable by five to ten years in New Jersey State prison. A third-degree crime on the other hand is punishable by three to five years in New Jersey State Prison.
So, what are the requirements in order for the state to establish a burglary? They have to show that you entered a structure with the purpose to commit a crime while you’re inside. So, what people don’t understand is typically people think burglary it’s a house—you break into a house to steal stuff, that’s a burglary sure but you also could break into a car to steal things it’s a structure counts as a burglary. You also don’t have to intend on stealing anything if you break into someone’s house to assault them that would be a burglary as well. It doesn’t have to be a house any structure and is there a purpose to commit a crime while you’re inside.
Now, how do you get a secondary burglary versus a third-degree burglary? A second degree it trumps up from a third to a second when number one there were injuries to a party. You break into a car you assault someone, break into a house, you hurt someone, that would make it a burglary second-degree. Or if there was a weapon involved—you break into a house with no gun third degree burglary. You break into a house with a gun or a knife something of that nature makes it a secondary burglary. If you’re facing burglary charges we can beat your case potentially a number of different ways. Number one, did you have a right to be at the property or the car or the house whatever they’re saying that you burglarized? A claim of right if you had a right to live there or you thought you have permission to go in and then they said you didn’t that’s not a burglary. Number two, did you have a right to the items that were inside? Whatever was taken did you think they were yours? Were they yours? Is there a dispute about the property? They’re a good defenses. Number three, did you intend to commit a crime while you were inside? It’s very difficult for the state and the prosecutor to convince the jury that you intended to commit a crime once you were inside. It’s hard to prove what was inside your head, so we can challenge that.
I’ve had cases where drunk kid went home thought he was at his house couldn’t get in with his keys didn’t understand why the key wasn’t working with the lock broke the window when inside fell asleep on the couch and the people call the police and said there’s a crazy person sleeping on my couch. Burglary? No. Press him with charge of burglary, he thought he was in his own house, number one. Number two he didn’t intend to commit a crime inside, he thought he’s sleeping on his own couch.