Burglary usually involves the unlawful entry into some type of structure (which doesn’t have to be a home or place of business) with the plan to commit some type of crime. It doesn’t have to involve theft or larceny, and it doesn’t require any physical breaking and entering. The person committing the crime may just enter the property through an open door. Unlike robbery, the victim may not be present. Someone could break in while the victim is gone, and this person may find the stolen item missing when he or she returns.
The Purpose of Burglary Laws
The crime of burglary was put into place under “common law,” but individual states have incorporated it into their penal codes (with some subtle modifications). While common law defines burglary as a crime that takes place in someone else’s home or dwelling at night, most states have included any unlawful entry to a place of business that happens during the day. Burglary laws are meant to protect a person’s home, and they’re meant to prevent any violence that may occur when someone else breaks in. It’s meant to protect against theft, but there are other laws that have made it illegal to take someone else’s property.
The Definition of Burglary
Because the definition of burglary comes from state laws, the individual elements may differ. But most states use the same basic definition, which includes the following:
- Breaking and Entering — This is the first element of burglary, because a person has to break in and enter the structure. It can involve the use of physical force (such as kicking the door in), or someone could take a more subtle approach (like pushing open a door that has been left ajar).
- Building or Occupied Structure — According to the common law definition, someone has to break into someone else’s home, but the modern definition has expanded it to any building or structure if it meets certain requirements. Breaking into a fenced area may not be considered a burglary, but breaking into a building that’s located in the same area probably would.
- Intent — for the break-in to be considered a burglary, the person must be planning to commit a crime while he or she is inside the building. It usually involves theft, but there are other crimes that can also be classified as burglary. The crime has to be separate from the break-in itself, and the timing of the intent is important in determining the specific degree.
Every single one of these elements must be present for someone to be convicted of a burglary, so the specifics of the case must be closely examined. Be sure to speak to someone at the Gale Law Group for more information about the definition of burglary in the State of Texas and on how we can help in the defense of these types of charges.
If you have been accused of burglary and you need someone to help you defend your case, get in touch with us today!