In Pennsylvania, burglary is a serious criminal offense. In most cases, burglary is a first-degree felony, which means that a conviction can result in up to 20 years of imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

If you have been arrested and charged with burglary in Pittsburgh, you need experienced legal representation. Your future is hanging in the balance, and you cannot afford to let the criminal justice process decide your fate. Attorney Randall McKinney has more than a decade of experience fighting for the criminally-accused in Pittsburgh. He can ensure that you are fairly treated and represented to ensure you do not face any unnecessary consequences as a result of your burglary arrest.

What it Means to Be Guilty of Burglary

The crime of burglary is defined in Section 3502 of the Crimes and Offenses Title of the Pennsylvania Code. Under Section 3502:

“A person is guilty of burglary if he enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, with intent to commit a crime therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the actor is licensed or privileged to enter.”

In layman’s terms, this means that a person commits a burglary when he or she enters a building without authorization and with the intent to commit a crime. Most often this is the crime of theft; however, state prosecutors routinely pursue burglary charges in relation to alleged intent to commit assault, kidnapping, sexual offenses, drug offenses and other crimes as well.

If you are convicted of burglary, you cannot also be convicted of the underlying crime (or attempt to commit the underlying crime) unless that crime is a first or second-degree felony. Likewise, if you are convicted of committing or attempting to commit an underlying crime which is classified as a third-degree felony, misdemeanor or summary offense, you cannot also be sentenced for burglary. If you have been charged with multiple offenses (as is often the case), it will be critical to focus your defense strategy on minimizing your potential sentence to the greatest extent possible.

Burglary vs. Criminal Trespass

Another defense strategy in many burglary cases is to argue that you are not guilty of burglary, but at most criminal trespass. This crime is defined in Section 3503 of the Crimes and Offenses Title, and can take four different forms:

  • Criminal trespass – buildings and occupied structures
  • Criminal trespass – defiant trespasser
  • Criminal trespass – simple trespasser
  • Criminal trespass – agricultural trespasser

The key difference between burglary and criminal trespass is the intent to commit another offense while unlawfully on someone else’s property. If the prosecution cannot prove that you had the intent required for burglary, then at most you are guilty of criminal trespass. Criminal trespass ranges from a summary offense to a third-degree felony.

Discuss Your Case with Pittsburgh Defense Attorney Randall McKinney

For more information about defense strategies in cases involving burglary and criminal trespass charges, you can contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your case with Pittsburgh defense attorney Randall McKinney in confidence, call (412) 520-3301 or contact us online now.