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Your Best Legal Defense Against Burglary Charges
Burglary is a misunderstood crime, often confused with robbery, residential entry, and even trespass. If you have been accused of burglary, you may not be guilty of anything, or you may be guilty of a lesser charge, like residential entry. For example, over the years, The Criminal Defense Team has represented many clients accused of the same type of crime: a drunk person forgets the house where he is staying and enters the wrong home. They will then raid the refrigerator before passing out on a couch. Although the actual homeowner may feel it is burglary when he or she wakes up and sees an unknown person sleeping on the sofa, it’s not.
On the other hand, a classic burglary often involves someone breaking into a home through a door or window with the intent to steal items in the home. Fingerprints, eyewitness identification, or even home video surveillance may be part of the evidence.
We have successfully defended clients accused of burglarizing someone’s home. How do we do it? Every case is different. For example, we explained that the fingerprints were present for another reason not related to burglary. This required much work in the investigative phase of our representation before we came up with the defense. In another successful burglary defense, we convinced the jury that the clients had no intention of committing a felony but merely was trying to scare the homeowner. This required depositions of the homeowner and his children before determining the strategic course of action.
Burglary cases require a thorough knowledge of the law combined with experience to know which facts to focus on to secure the best outcome. The Criminal Defense Team has even convinced prosecutors not to file burglary charges because our client hired us quickly following the arrest. Our reputation for going to trial, plus a prompt investigation, saved our client from facing charges. When trying to get the best outcome, your lawyer had better have a reputation for going to trial, or the prosecutor may push you around rather than offer a good deal or a dismissal. We have successfully taken a wide range of cases to a jury trial, including burglary, which can make all the difference in the world.
Arrested for burglary in Indiana? Contact The Criminal Defense Team online or call (317) 565-2221 now to get started on your defense!
Our team of lawyers is uniquely qualified to protect your freedom and interests. We believe in taking swift, aggressive action to out-maneuver the prosecution and build a strong defense. We’ve used our expertise for thousands of clients, and we can do it for you.
We defend clients in Hamilton County, Marion County, Johnson County, Hancock County, Shelby County, Boone County, Hendricks County, and counties throughout Indiana. We can help you as well.
Indiana statute 35-43-2-1 defines burglary as when a person breaks into and enters someone else’s structure or building with the intent to commit theft or a felony. The definition of residential entry is similar but involves a person’s home.
Residential Entry Charges in Indiana
According to Indiana statute 35-43-2-1.5, residential entry occurs when someone intentionally or knowingly breaks into and enters another person’s dwelling. Indiana law defines a dwelling as:
- A family home
- Any type of structure or enclosed area that someone uses as their home
- The structure can include anything fixed, permanent, temporary, or movable.
- A houseboat and RV are movable but are still considered dwellings
Breaking and entering do not mean that you actually broke something like a window, door, or lock. It refers to even the smallest amount of force being used to enter a building or dwelling without the owner’s permission or consent. The offender’s whole body doesn’t need to be entirely inside the property, either. They could be in a position where they’re able to commit theft or a felony, such as reaching their arm through a window to steal something that doesn’t belong to them.
What Level Felony is a Burglary Conviction in Indiana?
Burglary is typically considered a level 5 felony in the state of Indiana, however certain circumstances may charge the level.
- Burglary of a person's place of living, home, or dwelling is considered felony level 4.
- If a person is injured because of the burglary, it is a level 3 felony.
- If burglary is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, it is a felony level 2.
- If a person is seriously injured with a weapon, while burglary is being committed in their home, it is a level 1 felony.
What is the Sentencing for Burglary and Residential Entry in the State of Indiana?
Sentencing guidelines for burglary depend on the circumstances of the offense. Someone could commit burglary with a gun or cause injuries, increasing the level of the felony and penalty. On the other hand, residential entry comes with one standard sentence, that of a level 6 felony, unless there are extenuating circumstances, in which case the charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Criminal trespass is another offense under the category of burglary. Indiana statute 35-43-2-2 defines it as when a person:
- Intentionally or knowingly enters another person’s property even though the owner denied their entry.
- Intentionally or knowingly refuses to vacate the property after the owner asks them to leave.
- Joins someone in a vehicle, knowing that person has no authorization to use it.
- Knowingly or intentionally interferes with someone else’s use or possession of the property without their consent.
- Knowingly or intentionally enters, without the owner’s consent, an agricultural operation that propagates, produces, cultivates, processes, cares for, harvests, packages, stores, or manages plants, animals, or other agricultural products.
- Intentionally or knowingly travels on a train without the railroad carrier’s consent or lawful authority.
- Intentionally or knowingly rides in a passenger car, freight car, locomotive, or outside the train without consent from the railroad carrier or lawful authority.
- Knowingly or intentionally enters a vacant or abandoned structure or property and refuses to leave after law enforcement asked them to leave or prohibited them from entering the property.
- Intentionally or knowingly enters an agricultural operation without the owner’s permission and knowingly or intentionally participates in acts that cause damage to the operator, owner, or person with a contractual interest in the operation, or someone with personal property on the agricultural operation.
- Knowingly or intentionally enters another person’s property after an issued court order denied their entry.
Criminal trespass is usually a Class A misdemeanor. However, it increases to a level 6 felony if the offender:
- Trespasses on a public utility, research facility, or school property;
- Was previously convicted of trespassing on the same property associated with the current charge; or
- Causes over $750 in property damage after entering, without permission, an agricultural operation. The offense becomes a level 5 felony if the property damage is over $50,000.
Following are the sentencing guidelines for burglary and residential entry:
- Level 5 felony – One to six years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
- Level 4 felony if the defendant entered a dwelling – Two to 12 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
- Level 3 felony if the defendant caused someone bodily injury – Three to 16 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
- Level 2 felony if the defendant was armed with a deadly weapon or caused someone serious bodily injury – Ten to 30 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
- Level 1 felony if the defendant entered a dwelling and caused serious bodily injury to someone – 20 to 40 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
- Level 6 felony – 6 months to two and a half years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine
- Class A misdemeanor if the prosecution agrees to the reduced sentence and the defendant agrees to meet certain conditions that the court sets for this sentencing
Habitual offenders could face harsher penalties, meaning additional time in prison. It’s at the judge’s discretion to determine how much longer the defendant should serve in prison, depending on specific circumstances associated with the crime.
Indiana uses the following habitual offenders sentencing guideline:
An additional six to 20 years imprisonment if you’re facing a level 1 through 4 felony burglary charge and:
- You have two previous felony convictions that aren’t related to your current offense; and
- At least one of your prior felonies wasn’t a level 6 conviction.
An additional two to six years in prison if you’re facing a level 5 felony burglary charge and:
- You were convicted of two prior felonies unrelated to your current charge, with at least one conviction not being a level 6 felony;
- You previously faced allegations of an unrelated level 6 or 5 felony; and
- The period between your release from prison, parole, or probation and your current offense does not exceed ten years.
An additional two to a six-year prison sentence if you’re facing a level 6 felony burglary charge and:
- You were convicted of three previous unrelated felonies;
- The timeframe between your current crime and release from parole, prison, or probation is no longer than ten years; and
- You faced allegations of a level 6 or 5 felony before.
The Criminal Defense Team is ready to defend you against your burglary or residential entry charges. You might worry about the harsh penalties you’re facing and whether you will have to serve the maximum sentence. It’s a stressful experience for anyone. You can depend on our legal team to help you through the legal process and advocate for your freedom.
When you’re up against a burglary charge, Indiana law punishes offenders harshly. Felony convictions could land you in prison and affect your future. You could lose the right to vote or own a firearm, have trouble looking for work, and encounter problems within your family. Our attorneys from The Criminal Defense Team will review every little detail of your case to develop the right defense strategy.
The most common defenses used against burglary/residential entry charges include:
You are innocent – The most basic defense is that you did not commit the crime. Sometimes, eyewitnesses wrongly identify the offender, or someone seeking revenge will falsely accuse you of burglary. If that’s what happened in your case, we would need to establish your alibi and collect evidence proving you were nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the burglary.
The police violated your rights – Even when you get arrested, you have certain rights that law enforcement must allow. If any officer violated your rights during the arrest while searching your home or car, or during their investigation, we could file a motion to suppress. This would prevent the prosecutor from presenting certain evidence at trial.
You were under duress – You might not be found guilty of the burglary offense if someone forced you to do it. Fearing for your own life or the lives of your loved ones might have caused you to commit this crime. Someone else threatened you, and you were acting out of fear.
You had the owner’s consent – The owner of the building, dwelling, or other structure you entered permitted you to be there. You might have been arrested because they forgot, or a nosy neighbor reported you to the police.
Lack of intent – The prosecutor must show that you intended to commit theft or a felony when you entered the property. We could provide evidence that intent did not exist during the offense. For example, someone drugged you, causing you to behave out of character.
Every client’s case is unique. The type of defense we use will depend on the specific charge you’re facing and any extenuating circumstances that might exist. At The Criminal Defense Team, we know your freedom, reputation, and future are on the line. We will not give up without a fight to secure a not guilty verdict or find leverage that gets you a favorable plea deal.
Awards & Affiliations
The Criminal Defense Team has over 120 years of collective legal experience. Three of our lawyers are former prosecutors, giving us an edge over other legal teams. We know the strategies the prosecutor in your case might use to convict you of burglary and can use this knowledge to our advantage. With more than 1,000 trials under our belt, we’re not afraid to take your case to court if necessary. We believe that by hiring us, you are in an excellent position to receive an effective defense.
Do not hesitate to call The Criminal Defense Team immediately at (317) 565-2221 if you were arrested or charged with burglary, residential entry, or criminal trespass. It is critical that you don’t wait too long before seeking legal representation. The sooner we can get started on your case, the better.