Burglary Carries Severe Penalties
Burglary is defined in the Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-201 through 18-4-205. It is categorized as having three different levels – First Degree Burglary, Second Degree Burglary and Third Degree Burglary.
Additionally, it is illegal to possess tools that can be used in the commission of burglary with the intent to use those tools to commit a burglary.
The degree of burglary a person is charged with will depend on the particular facts of each case. If charged in El Paso County you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs who can review the facts to help determine if the case has been charged appropriately and whether there are possible defenses to the charges.
First Degree Burglary
A person who commits first-degree burglary is a person who knowingly enters unlawfully or remains unlawfully in a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime against the property or a person. Additionally, while either entering or inside or leaving, the person or someone with that person, assaults and menaces or possesses and threatens the use of a deadly weapon.
Basically, there are two parts to committing first-degree burglary. First, one must unlawfully enter or remain in a building they are not allowed to be inside while intending to commit a crime. Trespassing does not count as a crime. For example, a person must enter with the intent to commit theft or harm someone inside the building. Second, while entering, inside, or leaving, the person must commit menacing, assault, or have a deadly weapon and threaten to use or use it.
If a person commits First Degree Burglary, it is a class three felony. If the person uses or possesses and threatens the use of a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime, it may also be classified as a Crime of Violence, which carries with it an enhanced sentence and mandatory prison.
Second Degree Burglary
A person commits Second Degree Burglary if the person enters or remains unlawfully into a building with the intent to commit a crime against person or property.
Second Degree Burglary is different than First Degree Burglary because it does not require that a person commit menacing, assault, or the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon.
Often this is charged when a person breaks into another person’s home or business to commit theft. It is also used in domestic violence cases, where one party is angry and goes into another’s home and some form of harassment occurs.
Second Degree Burglary is a class four felony unless the building entered into is a “dwelling,” or in other words, someone’s home or controlled substances as defined in 18-18-102(5) is the target of the theft, in which case the crime is a class three felony.
Third Degree Burglary
A person commits Third Degree Burglary if that person enters or breaks into a vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, a product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or other apparatus with the intent to commit a crime, usually the crime of theft.
Third-degree Burglary is a class five felony unless theft of a controlled substance is the object as defined in 18-18-102(5).
Possession of Burglary Tools
A person commits Possession of Burglary Tools if that person possesses any tool that can be adapted, designed, or commonly used for committing or facilitating a burglary. Those tools must be possessed with the intent to use them to commit a burglary. For example, it is not illegal to possess a screwdriver. However, if a person is dressed in all black clothes, sneaking through a neighborhood late at night with a flashlight and a canvass bag filled with tools, it circumstantially indicates those tools are for purposes of a burglary. Possession of Burglary Tools is a class five felony.
Burglary Charges Require a Criminal Defense Lawyer
All of the Burglary laws have terms that have legal definitions, such as, “dwelling”, “possession”, “enters unlawfully”, “occupied structure.” These terms or words do not mean the same thing as when they are used in everyday language.
Burglary carries with it severe penalties in Colorado Springs. Do not put yourself at the mercy of the prosecutor. Contact us immediately for a free case evaluation.