Some of the most common types of property crime charges in Pennsylvania are theft/larceny, robbery and burglary. All involve one person taking property that belongs to another without the owner’s permission, but they vary in key details. For instance, robbery necessarily requires the use or threat of force.
In order to commit a burglary, people must enter a building or structure with the intent of committing a crime. Neither breaking a window or door, nor actual theft of property is necessary to sustain a burglary charge. The crime is in the unauthorized entry with the intent of committing a crime. For example, a man who enters a garage through an unlocked door with the intent of stealing a car has technically committed burglary even if he leaves without the car.
The severity of the potential penalty for burglary depends on a few factors. One is whether people are inside the building at the time the defendant entered. Another factor is if the defendant used force or threatened to harm people inside the building.
Most burglaries are charged as first-degree felonies. However, if the building that was burglarized is not a home and no one was present at the time of the offense, then it will be charged as a second-degree felony.
There are many reasons that people enter other people’s property in Pennsylvania. If people do so without permission and intend to commit a crime while inside, they could be charged with burglary. People cannot be punished if they are only charged with the crime; they must be convicted first, which means that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person actually committed a burglary. Experienced attorneys understand the potential criminal defenses and may be a useful resource.