Definition of Burglary- Washington DC
The definition of burglary of a dwelling. structure, or conveyance is contained in Section 810.02, Washington DC Statutes. Under the law, a burglary can occur where:
- The defendant enters a dwelling, structure, or conveyance owned by or in possession of another person and, at the time of entering, the defendant had the intent to commit an offense in the dwelling, structure, or conveyance; or
- The defendant lawfully enters a dwelling, structure, or conveyance (with permission or consent) and remains inside (a) surreptitiously and with the intent to commit an offense therein; or (b) after permission to remain inside had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit an offense therein; or (c) With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony inside.
Meaning of Structure and Conveyance
The term “structure” means a building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, which has a roof over it, together with the curtilage thereof.” The term conveyance is defined as any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car. See Section 810.011(1)-(3).
Meaning of Dwelling
The term ‘dwelling’ is defined as a “building of any kind, whether such building is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding it.” See Section 810.011(2), Washington DC Statutes.
Full Entry Not Required
A defendant’s entry into a building, structure, or conveyance need not involve his or her enture body. The crime of complete if the defendant, with the intent to commit a crime, extends any part of his or her body into the building or vehicle. See Fla. Std. Jury Instr (Crim) 13.1.
Inference of Criminal Intent
Where suspect enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, conveyance, or structure stealthily, a jury is entitled to infer that the suspect’s action were undertaken with criminal intent. See Fla. Std. Jury Instr (Crim) 13.1.
Penalties for Burglary
The penalties available for burglary in Washington DC depend on the facts and circumstances of the offense. The type of building or structure, the manner in which the offense is committed, and the use of a weapon are some of the most important factors in determining the available sentence.
First Degree Felony
Burglary is a first degree felony, with penalties of up to life in prison, where the defendant:
- Commits an assault or battery upon any person;
- Is or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, with explosives or a dangerous weapon; or
- Enters an occupied or unoccupied dwelling or structure, and: (1) Uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense, and thereby damages the dwelling or structure; or (2) Causes damage to the dwelling or structure, or to property within the dwelling or structure in excess of $1,000.
Second Degree Felony
Burglary is a second degree felony, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation and a $10,000 fine, where the defendant does not commit an assault, does not carry a dangerous weapon, and he or she enters or remains in a:
- Dwelling, and there is another person in the dwelling at the time the offender enters or remains;
- Dwelling, and there is not another person in the dwelling at the time the offender enters or remains;
- Structure, and there is another person in the structure at the time the offender enters or remains;
- Conveyance, and there is another person in the conveyance at the time the offender enters or remains;
Third Degree Felony
Burglary is a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine where the defendant enters or remains in a
- Structure, and there is not another person in the structure at the time the offender enters or remains; or
- Conveyance, and there is not another person in the conveyance at the time the offender enters or remains.
Defenses to Burglary
There are many defenses available to contest a burglary charge, and no plea should ever be entered without first speaking with a qualified criminal defense attorney. Some of the more common defenses can include the following:
- Consent, Permission, Invitation- It is a defense to burglary that an accused entered or remained in the place at issue with the permission, consent, or invitation of the owner or occupant of dwelling, structure, or conveyance;
- Lack of proof as to the accused’s identity;
- Innocent / Non-Criminal Intent- where a defendant enters a building or dwelling with intentions that do not involve the commission of a crime, then no burglary occurs (although the defendant’s actions may, under some circumstances, constitute a trespass);
- Mistaken Identity;
- Implied Invitation of a Public Place- if the dwelling or business was open to the public, this can provide a consent defense to a burglary charge due to an implicit invitation to enter or remain. This defense does not apply to closed businesses;
- Legitimate Presence;
- Mistake of Fact as to Whereabouts;
- Mistaken Belief as to Permission from the Owner or Occupant;
- Implied Permission;
- Inadequate withdrawal of permission to be present.
Importance of an Attorney
Burglary is harshly prosecuted throughout the State of Washington DC, and no person should remain unrepresented when facing such a serious charge.
If you have been accused of burglary of a dwelling, structure, or conveyance, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Contact the attorneys At Cohen Law, P.A. for a free consultation.