PITTSBURGH BURGLARY DEFENSE ATTORNEY

HOW IS THE CRIME OF BURGLARY DEFINED IN PENNSYLVANIA?

Section 3502 of the Crimes Code defines burglary, and it generally consists of these two material elements—

  • Entering a building or occupied structure
  • At the time of entering or beforehand, having the “intent to commit a crime therein”

WHAT IS AN “OCCUPIED STRUCTURE”?

An “occupied structure” is defined under the law as “any structure, vehicle or place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons, or for carrying on business therein, whether or not a person is actually present.”

Having tried these cases, by way of example, a fenced-in junk yard can be an “occupied structure” for purposes of the burglary statute.

HOW SERIOUS IS BURGLARY?

In all instances, burglary is a first-degree felony except in under one condition: when one enters a building or occupied structure that’s not adapted for overnight accommodations and when no person is present at the time of the offense. In that case, it’s a second-degree felony.

Other factors, too, can drive the Offense Gravity Score of burglary. Those factors are:

  • Whether the building or occupied structure was adapted for overnight accommodations
  • Whether anyone was present at the time of the offense
  • Whether a “bodily injury crime” was committed, attempted, or threatened

WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO BURGLARY?

Section 3502(b) sets forth three affirmative defenses to the crime of burglary:

  • The building or structure was abandoned
  • The premises are open to the public
  • The actor is licensed or privileged to enter

 

Additionally, a frequent defense that arises concerns when the intent to commit a crime was formed. If a person decides to commit a crime after they’ve already entered the building or occupied structure, then this later-formed criminal intent undermines the crime of burglary.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?

A prosecution for burglary must be commenced within five years after it is committed.

 

If you or a loved one is charged with burglary, call Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, Ryan H. James, who has tried and argued these cases with successful results.  Attorney James can be personally reached at 412-977-1827, or by e-mail at ryan@rhjameslaw.com