Burglary Prosecutions in DC

In any criminal prosecution, the government, which is represented by the United States Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC, always needs to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning the prosecutors bear the burden of proof; they are the ones who are required to present evidence to back up their charges. The level of confidence at which they need to prove their case is very high. If a jury has any reason to pause or hesitate before finding a defendant guilty, and that hesitation is based on an articulable reason, rather than a hunch or a gut instinct, the jury must find the defendant not guilty. Because of this, this is a very high burden for the prosecutor to meet.

For this reason, it is crucial for a person charged with burglary in DC to contact a DC burglary attorney to ensure that they have the opportunity to combat the prosecution and the charges against them. An experienced attorney can understand what goes into burglary prosecutions in DC, and can, therefore, build a strong defense for the defendant.

First v. Second-Degree Burglary Charges

In order for a prosecutor to prove that a defendant is guilty of burglary, he or she can file burglary charges in one of two ways.

The first is by filing second-degree burglary charges. In a second-degree burglary, the prosecutor would need to prove the defendant entered a non-dwelling structure or area, such as a bank or a warehouse, with the intention to commit a criminal offense inside that area.

The second is by filing first-degree burglary charges. In order for a prosecutor to prove the defendant committed a first degree burglary, he or she must prove the defendant entered a residential dwelling through force, or without the permission of the person who occupied the dwelling, and with the intention of committing a criminal offense inside that dwelling, or with the intention of carrying away a part of that dwelling. In any first-degree burglary case, the prosecutor would also need to prove the dwelling was in fact occupied at the time the defendant entered.


Prosecutors who handle burglary cases in DC are often among the more experienced and seasoned prosecutors at the US Attorney’s Office. Because burglary charges are considered to be some of the more serious charges filed against defendants in DC, the US Attorney’s Office only entrusts the prosecutions of DC burglary charges to the more experienced prosecutors.

Often, these prosecutors will have years of background with the US Attorney’s Office and, as a result, will be much more familiar with DC procedures and trial preparations, as compared to a newer prosecutor who may only be handling misdemeanor cases. Moreover, because the prosecutors who generally handle serious felonies like burglary cases will also have lighter caseloads, they are often able to devote more time and more attention to aggressively prosecuting each of their burglary cases.

The Trial Process

Burglary cases can be very heavy when it comes to evidence and witnesses. Such cases often involve physical evidence, scientific evidence, and eyewitness accounts. A defense attorney would need to be familiar with all forms of evidence in order to properly fight the charges filed by the prosecutors.

Additionally, the trial process can be very drawn out. Before taking a case to a trial, a prosecutor must first obtain an indictment from a grand jury in which the grand jury finds probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the burglary. Only once the grand jury issues such an indictment can the case proceed to a trial.

The trial process can involve multiple witnesses, including extra witnesses from the government, who may testify about evidence found at the scene and any other physical evidence the government thinks proves the defendant committed the burglary.

As a result of all of these complexities, it is important that a person facing a burglary charge have an equally experienced defense lawyer who is familiar with the issues that may arise and knows how to aggressively challenge any evidence that a prosecutor might try to use.