Burglary is unique criminal offense that carries different potential penalties and requires different defense strategies than other theft charges. Because of this, anyone charged with burglary should tailor their case to their specific circumstances in order to effectively pursue the best possible outcome.
If you are facing charges of burglary of any degree, getting in touch with a criminal attorney should be your top priority. An experienced Fort Oglethorpe burglary lawyer could help you understand your options, collect exculpatory evidence, and protect your rights throughout the legal process.
The key factor that differentiates burglary from other types of theft is the location of the crime. As per Official Code of Georgia §16-7-1, a person commits the offense of burglary when they enter or remain inside a building with the intent to commit an act of theft or any other felony inside. It does not matter whether the building is occupied, unoccupied, or completely vacant. Any time someone unlawfully enters a building to commit a crime, they may be charged with burglary.
State law defines two discrete degrees of burglary. First-degree burglary is any act of burglary that occurs inside a house, apartment, or other dwelling, and it is classified as a felony punishable by a maximum 20-year prison sentence and a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years. Second-degree burglary is any act of burglary targeting a non-residential building or vehicle, a comparatively less severe felony offense that is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
Notably, third and subsequent convictions for first-degree burglary allow for a prison sentence of between five and 25 years upon conviction. Anyone convicted of three or more burglary offenses of any degree cannot have their sentence for a fourth or subsequent burglary conviction suspended or deferred. A Fort Oglethorpe burglary attorney could advise a defendant regarding additional consequences that may come from subsequent burglary offenses or from other crimes charged alongside burglary.
State law establishes a third variant of burglary that applies specifically to burglaries targeting retail establishments. As per O.C.G.A §16-7-2, anyone who enters an establishment which sells merchandise and/or edible products with the intent to commit a theft and causes at least $500 worth of damage to that establishment may be charged with “smash and grab burglary.”
A first conviction for this type of burglary could lead to a prison sentence of two to 20 years as well as a maximum $100,000 fine. Subsequent convictions are punishable by five to 20 years of imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. Assistance from a seasoned defense lawyer may be especially crucial for anyone in Fort Oglethorpe accused of this form of burglary.
Burglary offenses are always considered felonies in Georgia, and repeated convictions for any type of burglary can lead to increasingly harsh penalties. Even if this is your first criminal charge, you should seek skilled legal representation to safeguard your future.
Speaking with a Fort Oglethorpe burglary lawyer could help you determine the best course of action to protect your best interests. Call today to set up your consultation and learn more.