DC Burglary Penalties

Burglary is a felony crime that requires proof of a person entering a building or a home with the intention of committing a crime inside. The intention to commit a crime cannot be an intention to commit a burglary or an unlawful entry. The intention to commit a crime must be a different crime, in addition to unlawfully entering. If facing a burglary charge in the Washington area, a DC burglary lawyer will be an individual’s strongest advocate in putting together a defense, mitigating the potential burglary penalties, and working towards finding the most favorable resolution for their case.

Elements of Burglary

In DC, there are varying degrees of burglary which will depend on the circumstances of the incident. To sustain a conviction of second degree burglary which is the less serious offense, the prosecution is required to prove that the accused entered the dwelling or the building of another and at the time of entrance, had the intention of committing a crime once inside.

To prove the more serious offense of first degree burglary, the prosecution has to prove that the accused entered a building which was the dwelling of another person or a room that is used for sleeping. The prosecution must also prove that the dwelling or sleeping room was occupied at the time the accused entered. Finally the prosecution must prove, just like in second degree burglary, that at the time the accused entered, he intended to commit a crime, separate and apart from unlawfully entering the property.

Degrees and Penalties of Burglary in DC

The two degrees of burglary in DC are first degree and second degree. First degree burglary is viewed as more serious than second degree because of the elements that require the dwelling or room of another which is used for sleeping to be occupied at the time a person enters that room or dwelling

In a crime of second degree burglary, there is no requirement that the structure has to be a dwelling or a room used for sleeping. All that is required of the building or structure is that it must belong to another person at the time the person entered it.

DC burglary penalties depend on the degree of the crime. First degree burglary carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison and a fine of $75,000, with a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. Second degree burglary carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and a $37,500 fine, with a mandatory minimum of two years in prison. Due to the potential severity of Burglary penalties in DC, it can be helpful to consult with a DC burglary attorney when faced with burglary charges.

Aggravating Factors for Burglary in DC

A common aggravating factor for burglary in DC is when a person commits a burglary while armed. If the person was armed with a firearm or a dangerous weapon, the potential penalties for the burglary increase.

For example, if a person is convicted of first degree burglary, and also is found to have been armed with a firearm while committing the burglary, that person will face a mandatory minimum term of five years imprisonment, with a possible maximum punishment of 30 years imprisonment.

Armed burglary can occur in situations where the person who is entering a dwelling, with the intention of committing a crime inside, is armed with a shotgun, rifle, knife, razor or other dangerous weapon.  The sentencing recommendations under the DC Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines suggest a higher sentence for a person convicted of burglary while armed compared to an unarmed burglary. So, aggravating factors can certainly affect burglary penalties in DC.

What If An Attempt Causes Harm to Someone’s Property?

If a person tries to commit a burglary, even if he is not successful in completing the crime, the government may pursue a charge of attempted burglary. If the person causes damage to another person’s property while trying to commit the burglary, that person could also face malicious destruction of property charges.

An example of this scenario is where a person, while trying to get through the door of another person’s house, breaks a nearby window in order to reach in and unlock the door. That person could be charged with malicious destruction of property for the damage to the window.

In this scenario, if the damage to the window amounted to a monetary loss of $1,000 or more, that person would be facing potential penalties of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $25,000, or both. If the damage to the window amounted to a loss of less than $1,000, he would be facing a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail, a fine of $1,000, or both, in additional to the possible penalties for the attempted burglary.

The Benefit of a Local DC Burglary Lawyer

If an individual is charged with burglary or is being investigated for burglary, it is important to hire a local DC burglary lawyer. A local burglary lawyer will be accustomed to the procedures and burglary penalties in DC burglary cases, which will help an individual get sound legal advice. A lawyer will be able to work with an individual in preparing for trial and pre-trial hearings, while simultaneously conducting discussions with government prosecutors to secure a resolution favorable to the client.