Although terms such as robbery, burglary, theft, or conversion are frequently used interchangeably by the public, they are not. Each of these terms constitutes a separate and distinct crime, with varying legal consequences. In this blog, we look specifically at the crime of burglary, providing a general overview of the crime, along with potential punishments if convicted, and potential defenses.
In Indiana, the crime of burglary involves: (1) breaking and entering; (2) the building or structure; (3) of another person; and (4) with intent to commit a felony or theft in it.1 Thus, in order to be convicted of burglary in Indiana, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual committed each of these elements. As you may imagine, some of these elements are much easier to prove than others. For example, proving the “of another person” element is fairly simple considering property ownership records are easily obtainable. However, proving the remaining elements can be a much tricker process. The reason being that other elements can are largely subjective, making the state’s job much harder.
When looking at potential punishments for a burglary conviction, it is important to understand the variations of the crime of burglary. To expand, a person convicted of burglary based on the above elements commits a level 5 felony.2 However, the crime of burglary becomes a level 4 felony if the “building or structure” is a dwelling.3 A person that commits burglary that results in bodily injury to another person commits a level 3 felony.4 The crime of burglary is a level 2 felony if, in addition to the above elements, the burglary is: (1) committed while armed with a deadly weapon; or (B) results in serious bodily injury to any person other than the defendant.5 Finally, burglary is a level 1 felony if: (1) the building or structure is a dwelling; and (2) it results in serious bodily injury to any person other than a defendant.6
Defending against a charge of burglary is ultimately going to depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. Nonetheless, some general defenses to the crime of burglary include instances where a person who possessed the property was not aware of his or her possession for a time sufficient for such person to have terminated his or her possession.7 Another potential defense to the crime of burglary is authorized consent. However, be aware that if a person exceeds the scope of the consent, the defense may be inapplicable.
Criminal cases, especially burglary, are usually complex matters, regularly turning on the specific facts of the case. Going through a criminal trial is scary. Moreover, individuals oftentimes feel alone or trapped when they find themselves in such situations. However, remember that you aren’t alone or trapped. You have rights and you have options. If you find yourself in trouble, skilled defense counsel is crucial to protect your rights. This blog is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle the full spectrum of criminal cases throughout Indiana. This blog is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.