Baton Rouge Burglary Attorney
There are several different types of theft crimes that someone can commit, one of them being burglary. In Louisiana, a burglar is defined as someone who enters an inhabited structure or piece of property with the intent to steal or commit some other crime. Burglary is considered a felony offense that carries severe penalties such as fines, jail time, and a permanently tainted criminal record. Below, our legal team breaks down the specific elements that make up a burglary charge, as well as possible legal defenses that a Baton Rouge burglary attorney could use in your favor.
If you’re facing criminal charges in Louisiana, such as theft crime charges, sex crime charges, drug crime charges, or even violent crime charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. The legal team at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown have been defending the legal rights of Louisianans for nearly 40 years. We can do the same for you. Call our law firm at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
What is Burglary?
According to Louisiana state laws, burglary occurs when someone breaks into any inhabited home, structure, or water craft with the intent to commit theft or some other felony crime.
Elements of Burglary
In order to prove burglary, you must prove that all the elements of burglary occurred in a criminal case. The main elements of any burglary case are:
- Unlawful entry
- Into an occupied building, structure, or home
- With intent to commit a theft or other felony crime.
The first element of a burglary crime is breaking and entering. There are two methods of breaking in that thieves will resort to: actual breaking in or constructive breaking in.
Actual breaking in is done with use of physical force. In other words, burglars might break a window, pick a lock, or kick down a door. Meanwhile, constructive breaking in is typically achieved through fraud or blackmail.
The next element is unlawful entry into someone’s property. In Louisiana, this could mean any inhabited home, structure, water craft, or “movable.” It’s important to note that an inhabited structure doesn’t necessarily mean an occupied structure. It just means that someone owns the structure and uses it as a living space or storage space. Additionally, “movable” in Louisiana’s state law refers to anything on wheels: a trailer, an RV, a car, or even a houseboat.
In some cases, breaking and entering into fenced off property or land may not count under the burglary definition because it doesn’t act as a home or a shelter. However, an experienced burglary lawyer could examine the details of your case and tell you for sure.
Additionally, the structure that a burglar breaks into must be closed off to the public at the time they committed the crime. If the defendant entered a retail store during normal hours and swiped a product off the shelf, this would not be considered burglary. Instead, it would be considered shoplifting under Louisiana state law. In order for this situation to fall under burglary law, the defendant would have had to break into the store after hours and steal a product.
Lastly, breaking into an abandoned structure or building often doesn’t count as burglary because an abandoned building is considered uninhabited. You can still face criminal charges for breaking into an abandoned building, but likely not burglary charges.
These stipulations are exactly why it’s so important to arm yourself with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, especially if you’re being accused of theft. Baton Rouge burglary attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown can examine the details of the crime committed and determine whether it has all of the elements of a burglary crime in Louisiana.
Lastly, a burglar must have intent to commit a theft or a felony. This crime must be separate from the breaking and entering element in order to fall under the category of burglary. So if someone breaks a window and enters a store after hours but they don’t actually steal anything or commit another crime, they would not face burglary charges. Instead, they may face legal and criminal repercussions for trespassing and property damage.
Types of Burglary
Unlike many other states, Louisiana doesn’t have first degree burglary, second degree burglary, third degree burglary, etc. Instead, our state laws list two main types of burglary: simple burglary and aggravated burglary.
Louisiana state law (RS 14:62) defines simple burglary as illegally breaking and entering into an inhabited home, structure, water craft, or movable with the intent to commit a theft or other crime.
Meanwhile, state law (RS 14:60) defines aggravated burglary as illegally breaking and entering into an inhabited structure with the intent to commit theft or another crime while armed with a dangerous weapon. If you commit burglary and some sort of battery upon another person with a dangerous weapon, you can face an aggravated burglary charge as well.
Is Burglary a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, any type of burglary is considered a felony offense.
Burglary Penalties in Louisiana
Burglary is a serious crime that can warrant serious penalties in the state of Louisiana. Those found guilty of simple burglary can face a $2,000 fine and/or 12 years imprisonment with or without hard labor. Being armed with a dangerous weapon (but not committing battery) at any point during the simple burglary offense can result in a higher fine or increased prison time.
Meanwhile, those found guilty of aggravated burglary in Louisiana can face 1 to 30 years imprisonment at hard labor.
Possible Burglary Defenses
If you’re facing burglary charges in Louisiana, it is crucial to hire an experienced burglary defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown. We can determine if your situation contains all the elements of a burglary crime and form a viable defense on your behalf. Our goal is to lessen your charge, prison sentence, and/or fine, if possible. Above all else though, our burglary lawyers will protect your legal rights.
Possible burglary defenses include:
- Mistaken Identity: It’s very possible for witnesses to identify the wrong suspect or for surveillance cameras to be so grainy that it’s nearly impossible to identify the correct suspect. You don’t deserve prison time for a felony conviction you did not commit.
- Authorized Entry: If you had consent from the owner to enter the property (even if the consent was given in the past and had not been revoked), you and your burglary lawyer could argue that you did not illegally break in and enter the property. Even if you falsely believed that you had consent to enter the property, you may still have a good chance at succeeding with this defense, especially if the owner never explicitly revoked consent.
- Not an Inhabited Structure: As mentioned previously, in order to commit burglary, you must break and enter into an inhabited structure that could serve as some kind of shelter for a person. A fenced off, open piece of land typically does not count and neither does an uninhabited structure. If you unlawfully entered property like that, you could receive a different or lesser charge than burglary.
- Lack of Intent: Another important element of burglary is the intention to commit a theft or crime. Simply breaking into a piece of property without stealing something or committing battery is not burglary. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you gather sufficient evidence to prove lack of intent.
- Entrapment: It’s very possible for undercover agents to “induce” alleged burglars to commit a crime they didn’t actually want to commit to begin with. This is called entrapment. Our burglary attorneys can help you prove that entrapment occurred in your case. If this defense is successful, your burglary charges will be completely dropped.
Call a Baton Rouge Burglary Attorney at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown TodayIf you’re facing criminal charges, such as burglary charges, in Louisiana, you must arm yourself with the best possible legal representation. If not, you can wind up with thousands of dollars in fines, prison time, and a permanently tainted criminal record. Baton Rouge burglary lawyers have been defending Louisianans in theft crime cases since 1984. We have what it takes to give you the best case outcome possible, whether that be a lesser fine, prison sentence, or charge. Call a Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation today.
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