Evidence in Burglary Cases

Theft Crime Lawyer Serving the Phoenix Area

Burglary is a serious felony charge. It is defined differently from state to state. In Arizona, it involves entering a building or another property while intending to commit a crime, such as larceny. For example, if you broke into a neighbor’s house planning to steal his flat-screen, you could be charged with burglary regardless of whether he is home and regardless of whether he left his door unlocked. You need not have actually taken something from the property in order to get arrested and served in an Arizona burglary. A seasoned Phoenix burglary defense attorney can assess whether the facts of your case may fulfill the elements of this offense.

What is Burglary?

Burglary is charged if you go onto someone else’ property intending to perpetrate a theft or other felony. There are three degrees of burglary. The least serious is third degree burglary. Under Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) section 13-1506, third degree burglary occurs if you enter or stay illegally in or on a nonresidential structure or fenced yard, intending to perpetrate a theft or other felony. It’s a Class 4 felony. Under A.R.S. section 13-1507, second degree burglary is perpetrated by illegally going onto or staying unlawfully in or on a residential structure, while intending to perpetrate a theft or other felony inside. This is different from third degree burglary because it can only occur in or on a residential structure, such as a home, and not a nonresidential one.

First degree burglary is the most serious type of burglary. Under A.R.S. section 13-1508, it can be charged if you perpetrate a second or third degree burglary and also knowingly possess a dangerous instrument, a deadly weapon, or explosives in the course of perpetrating the felony. When the burglary at issue is a third degree offense under section 13-1506, and such weapons are used, the charge will be a third degree felony in Arizona. Similarly, if second degree burglary is charged, it can be turned into a Class 2 felony.

In Arizona, you need not perpetrate a burglary to be charged with the Class 6 felony of being in possession of burglary tools. The only mandate is that you possessed tools that are usually used in burglary, such as instruments or explosives or tools that are commonly used to break into a structure. If you’re charged with possession of burglary tools in addition to another burglary charge, the penalties can be harsher. You may have up to 6 years of incarceration, along with the requirement that you pay restitution, forfeit property, and pay fines and fees.

Evidence in Burglary Cases

One of the hardest elements for the prosecution to establish with direct evidence is intent. However, there are situations in which your actions may simply seem consistent with the intent to perpetrate a crime when going into another’s home or structure. For example, if you broke into a house and were found using a screwdriver to get the television off the wall, it’s likely that it will be assumed you had an intent to commit a burglary.

There are also situations in which your prior burglaries may be used to establish your intent. Where, for example, you were arrested several years ago for breaking into someone else’s car with certain tools, and then you’re again caught breaking into a car with those tools, the prosecutor may be able to show you’d perpetrated a prior similar burglary to prove you had the intent to steal.

Another type of evidence in burglary cases is testimony. Burglary can be charged when nobody is home, but sometimes somebody is home and that person can give testimony to support the burglary charge. Witnesses to you breaking into a home can also provide testimony to support the charge. For example, if someone sees you rattling the door of a neighbor’s house and using a hairpin to try to get the lock open, this can go towards establishing the element of illegally going into a residence in a second degree burglary charge.

Consult an Experienced Burglary Defense Attorney in Phoenix

Evidence in burglary cases in Phoenix may be challenged. If you are concerned about the evidence in your burglary case, experienced criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak can assess the facts. Mr. Novak represents defendants charged with theft crimes and other offenses throughout the Phoenix area including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.

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