What Other Factors Might Increase the Severity of a Burglary Charge?

Interviewer: Are there any other aggravating factors that make a burglary charge more severe?

A Gun Specification Carries a Mandatory Year in Jail

Dale: Oh yes, you could have a gun spec. A gun specification is a year mandatory jail time. I’ve seen this happen. I represented someone who was with someone else and one of the items they stole was a weapon.

When they were apprehended, they had the weapon on them, so they both received the gun specification. It was a year minimum mandatory.

Interviewer: Are there any other aggravating factors?

Possession of a Gun during a Burglary Is a Serious Charge

Dale: In my experience, having a weapon involved is always going to make the charges more severe and the case harder to defend.

Interviewer: Any other factors that make it aggravating?

Having a Person Present While Committing a Burglary and Causing Injury to a Person Are Aggravating Factors that Will Increase the Severity of the Penalties

Dale: Yes, if someone’s injured in the burglary process.

Interviewer: If someone’s in the home and you assault them?

Dale: Yes. Or you’re committing the burglary while someone’s present in the home, even if you don’t know that they’re home, and they’re inside a closet, and they’re scared and they call the police.

That’s an aggravating factor. When you’re moving along the scales for penalties, when you can get a one to three, if someone’s present then all of a sudden, it’s looking more like a three than the one.

Interviewer: Is it a separate crime?

Dale: No. It’s just an aggravating factor.

Interviewer: Even if someone was sleeping upstairs, and you were going through their possessions downstairs, that would aggravate the burglary because they were in the house?

Dale: Yes.

Does A Burglary Charge Apply to all Structures on a Property?

Interviewer: What about other structures on a property?

Dale: It depends if they’re occupied, or if there’s reason to believe that they’re occupied. It’s not the same. You will not get charged with burglary if you break into someone’s garage or shed and steal his riding lawn mower because it’s not an occupied structure.

Can Burglary be Committed inside a Commercial Structure?

Interviewer: What about commercial buildings? Does that fall under the statute of burglary or no?

Dale: Yes because they could be occupied.

Interviewer: If you broke into a Starbucks after it was closed or Kohl’s?

Dale: You could make the argument that the defendant has the knowledge that this store is closed after this hour and no one’s present. However, how do you know that for certain? There could be people there performing inventory. There could be a security guard there.

Is an Automobile Considered a Structure?

Interviewer: Is breaking into a car considered burglary because it could be an occupied structure?

Dale: No, it is not a structure. There is a definition of structure and it would not include a vehicle.

Interviewer: Are there any unusual structures that would be considered burglary that people aren’t aware of?

However, a Motor Home or Trailer May be Considered a Structure

Dale: Not that I can think of, but you ask an interesting question when you say a vehicle. I think it would be a different story if it was a motor home.

Interviewer: That makes sense. A camper and a trailer can be occupied.