If you have been arrested and charged with burglary in Philadelphia, you need immediate legal help from a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled burglary cases. Lauren Wimmer brings cutting-edge defense strategies and a sophisticated understanding of the law to every burglary case she handles. To set up a free and confidential consultation with attorney Lauren Wimmer, call (215) 712-1212 today.
Contrary to popular belief, burglary does not necessarily entail stealing anything. In Pennsylvania, the legal definition of this crime is far broader in scope.
Pennsylvania’s definition can be found at 18 Pa.C.S. § 3502(a). A person commits burglary in Pennsylvania when he or she enters a building or other structure with intent to commit any crime – not necessarily theft – while inside.
Burglary is a very serious offense that is always graded as a felony under Pennsylvania’s burglary statute. In fact, in many situations it is a first degree felony – the highest level of crime aside from murder. First degree felonies are graver crimes than second degree felonies, third degree felonies, misdemeanors, or summary offenses. Other first degree felonies in Pennsylvania include rape, kidnapping, and theft of $500,000 or more.
The penalties for burglary depend largely on two factors:
Burglary is a first degree felony under any one of the following circumstances:
Burglary is a second degree felony only if it did not involve a home, no one was present, and the offense did not involve theft of a controlled substance. For instance, breaking into an empty store to steal jewelry would be a second degree felony.
The criminal penalties for first degree felony burglary in Pennsylvania may include:
The criminal penalties for second degree felony burglary in Pennsylvania may include:
There are two types of trespassing crimes in Pennsylvania: simple trespass and defiant trespass. Both of these crimes involve being somewhere you are not legally allowed to be, but differ based on the trespasser’s knowledge and intent.
Criminal trespass, is a crime closely related to burglary. Prosecuted under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3503, criminal trespass involves unlawfully entering, breaking into, or remaining in any building or occupied structure despite the person “knowing that he [or she] is not licensed or privileged to do so.” If the actor trespasses in a building, it is charged under § 3503(a)(1)(i) or (ii). Subsection (i) is a third degree felony, and punishes trespassing in a building by sneaking in. Subsection (ii) is a second degree felony – a more severe crime – because it punishes breaking into a building. This would be the equivalent of what many states call “breaking and entering.”
If someone trespasses in any place – not necessarily a building – after being told to leave, they violate § 3503(b) by committing a “defiant trespass.” This crime is usually a third degree or first degree misdemeanor and requires warning the defendant that they are not permitted to be in the area. This can be accomplished by posted signs, actual communication, or by fencing/walling off the area against entry.
Simple trespass is the lightest form of trespass, punished under § 3503(b.1). This crime is a summary offense, the lowest level of crime. This is charged when someone “enters or remains in any place” (not necessarily a building) that they know they are not allowed to be in. Simply being somewhere is not a crime, though; to violate the law, the actor must trespass to threaten someone, start a fire, or deface property. Without this intent, there is no crime.
The penalties for first and second degree felonies are described above. Penalties for other levels of crime may include the following:
While any criminal charge is an urgent matter that demands attention from an experienced defense attorney, skilled representation is especially critical in cases involving felony charges. You need an experienced Philadelphia burglary lawyer who can protect your rights throughout every stage of the criminal proceeding process, from your preliminary hearing in Municipal Court to trial in the Court of Common Pleas, if necessary. Lauren Wimmer is a former Clerk in the Philadelphia homicide unit and will fight for a favorable resolution to your case, starting from day one. Contact Wimmer Criminal Defense or call 215-712-1212 for a free consultation and to learn how we can work to reduce the actual charges you will face as well as the resulting consequences.
For a free and confidential legal consultation about your burglary charges, contact Lauren Wimmer right away.
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