Burglary is a felony most often associated with theft and can refer to many situations, even shoplifting. It is defined as a criminal offense of breaking and entering a place illegally with the intent of committing a crime, and it happens more often than you’d think.
There are several types of burglary, and each of them comes with its charges and repercussions. Statistics show that these crimes occur most often during the daytime and within minutes.
This article will explain what kinds of burglary exist, what elements constitute it, how to burglar-proof your home, and what to do if it happens to you. Read on and learn some of the most important facts about this crime.
Degrees of Burglary
The laws of a state determine the kinds of burglary. However, all of them require the following elements to prove the crime:
- The person entered the property without authorization
- The structure in question is not abandoned
- The person had a goal of committing a crime
The sections below show the overview and the states’ requirements for each degree of burglary.
What Is First-Degree Burglary?
The first degree of burglary is the most severe and covers all residential and commercial burglaries. More specifically, it means breaking and entering a dwelling or a commercial building with the intent of committing either a violent crime or theft. Dwelling refers to a person’s place of residence, including freestanding houses, trailer homes, apartments, and condos.
Charges for burglary differ from state to state. The first-degree burglary sentence, for example, can be anything from felony probation to life in prison. For instance, under California law, burglary in the first degree is always a felony, leading to probation or two, four, or six years in California state prison.
In Florida, for example, burglary in the first degree is sometimes punishable by life in prison. At the same time, perpetrators can get 7–20 years of jail time in Oklahoma and 7–21 years in Arizona.
Burglary 2nd Degree
Burglary in the second degree covers nonresidential burglaries and is almost always considered a felony. Depending on the state, it may involve an unarmed break-in where no one is injured. Second-degree violations are:
- breaking into an office, barn, shed, car, or boat, with the intent of committing a crime
- committing a crime with no violence or when the victim isn’t present
- possessing a weapon during unlawful entry
- commercial building entrance with no authorization
According to burglary sentencing guidelines, a person convicted of burglary in the second degree will be sentenced under applicable local laws. For instance, the penalty in Oklahoma is up to seven years of imprisonment.
Burglary in the second degree can carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison or on probation, as well as fines and surcharges. The maximum fine is usually $20,000.
For a burglary of a building in Texas, the punishment involves six months to two years of jail time since it is considered a felony. However, habitation burglary is often more severe than this, and a person can get between two and 20 years in prison for invading another person’s home. As we have mentioned, the punishment depends on each state’s laws and what kinds of burglaries they consider second-degree.
Burglary 3rd Degree
Third-degree burglary involves two elements:
- The perpetrator enters and stays in a building without authorization
- While in the building, they intend to commit a crime
The main difference between the third and the first two degrees is that there aren’t any aggravating factors present in the former, such as the use of weapons and violence.
Overall, third-degree charges are less severe compared to the first two. Examples of third-degree burglary punishments include imprisonment, probation time, restitution, conditional discharge, or community service, depending on the state and the severity of the case. First-time offenders can receive up to five years in prison, while repeat offenders receive no more than 10. Moreover, the fine for burglaries in the second degree can go up to $5,000.
Third-degree burglary can sometimes be charged as an unlawful entry offense, which is often treated as a misdemeanor instead.
The three different types of burglary we have mentioned are present in many states, such as Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky. What’s more, California and Georgia laws recognize only first and second-degree burglaries. However, states like Maryland and Iowa have the so-called fourth-degree burglary, which is often treated as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Let’s take a look at how this degree differs from the previous three.
4th Degree Burglary
Fourth-degree burglary most often refers only to the intent of committing the crime. For instance, if a person is found near a building with burglar’s tools, like a crowbar or a rock, they can still be charged with the crime. However, some states’ laws treat breaking and entering as fourth-degree burglary, even if the perpetrator doesn’t intend to commit further crimes.
The types of burglary charges for this level are the least severe among the four. People who carry out fourth-degree burglaries can face prison sentences from six months to three years. Moreover, they will have to pay fines of up to $3,000. However, the charges still depend on each state’s jurisdiction, while most states don’t even have a separate degree for these kinds of burglary.
What To Do If Someone Breaks Into Your House
Burglary is a crime that can happen to anyone, anywhere. In fact, in the US, over 10,000 burglaries occur every day. A burglar can use forcible or non-forcible means to enter a place. For example, a forcible entry burglary occurs when someone kicks down the door, breaks the window, or uses another break-in method.
On the other hand, a non-forcible entry occurs when someone uses deception or other constructive means to enter a place without permission. This includes using a key hidden under the doormat, calling and claiming to be from the cable TV company, or pretending to be lost and asking to use the phone.
Of course, no matter how carefully you try to avoid these two types of burglary, they can still occur. If you come face to face with a burglar, the best thing to do is stay calm and try to remember as many details about the person. Then, call the police right away and let them handle it.
Another option is to call your home insurance company, which will compensate for the stolen property and pay for the repair or replacement of damaged items.
Elements of Burglary
Each type of burglary has its own set of elements in order to be treated as such. For example, suppose the property in question is not a residence or a commercial building and is, instead, a farm or vehicle. In that case, the elements will be different.
However, some common elements must be present for each instance, regardless of the types of burglary involved. These elements include:
- Entry into the property: The perpetrator must enter the property for the action to be considered burglary. If they merely attempt to enter but are unsuccessful, it will be classified as an attempted burglary.
- Unlawful entry: The perpetrator must enter the property unlawfully. This means they don’t have permission from the owner or any other legal authority to be there.
- Altered property: The perpetrator must have modified the property in question. For example, if they break into a home or apartment but don’t take anything or cause any damage, most often, there wouldn’t be any burglary charges.
- Property of value: Finally, the property must be valuable enough to count as burglary. This means that it must have some monetary or sentimental value. The theft often does not count as burglary if the stolen property isn’t worth much. If the items aren’t recovered, the stolen goods are appraised through physical proof, such as receipts and order forms.
Understanding these elements and how they apply to the specific degrees of burglary can help you report the crime to the police in detail and protect yourself from potential legal repercussions.
It’s important to know how to protect yourself in case someone breaks into your home or apartment. Here are some tips on how to prevent burglary attempts:
- Keep your home well-lit at night.
- Don’t hide your keys outside.
- Install good-quality locks; the most common burglary example involves the owners leaving their doors and windows unlocked.
- Install motion-sensor lights outside and inside your house.
- Keep your valuables in a safe or out of plain sight.
- Work with neighbors to keep an eye out on each other’s homes and belongings, especially when you are away on vacation or extended trips.
- Consider a home security system, like Frontpoint.
Summary: How Many Degrees of Burglary Are There and What Can You Do?
There are four different levels of burglary and several tactics to carry it out.
Regardless of the degree, it’s essential to take precautions to prevent or minimize the damage. This might involve locking doors and windows, investing in high-quality security systems, or installing alarms. In fact, only 22% of people in the US report having an alarm system at home.
Understanding different burglary types and tactics can help you keep yourself, those close to you, and your property safe from harm. It’s also crucial to report any suspicious activity immediately and work with the police to bring the criminals to justice.
People Also Ask
What are the three classifications of burglary?
According to the FBI, there are three classifications of burglary:
- attempted forcible entry (forcing one’s way into a structure without success)
- forcible entry (use of physical force or threats during the burglary attempt)
- illegal entry without force (entering through an open window or an unlocked door)
Cases where the burglar enters through an unlocked door or window and then threatens the residents or makes them go outside still count as forcible entries.
What is the most common type of burglary?
The most common type of burglary is residential, which involves breaking into or entering a private home. The burglar’s main purpose is to steal property, but this doesn’t prevent them from committing other crimes.
In addition, the most common kinds of burglary involve people leaving the doors and windows unlocked. That’s why it’s essential to double-check whether you locked the door and install good-quality locks on your doors and windows.
Which is the most serious type of burglary?
Overall, burglary in the first degree is the most severe one — it covers all residential burglaries. More specifically, it’s defined as breaking and entering a person’s dwelling to commit either a violent crime or theft.
Burglaries which involve only home break-ins are also very serious but are still less severe than those involving theft and violent crimes. In general, the aftermath determines the severity of this crime; losing your belongings through burglary is worse than having your house broken into but with all your goods in place.
What are the major characteristics and varieties of burglaries?
The four primary dimensions of burglary are the degree of organization, amount of violence, the value of the stolen goods, and the burglary counts. Four additional characteristics are unconnected offenses, connected offenses, pending charges, and attempted burglaries.
Depending on the severity of the burglary, the perpetrators can receive sentences from 6 months to 25 years in jail. In the most serious cases, they can face life imprisonment. Apart from jail time, they also have to pay fines.
Understanding these elements and the types of burglary is an integral part of effectively responding to these crimes. In addition, you can burglar-proof your home with motion sensors or a home security system in case you need extra security.