Fighting Burglary Charges in Georgia

burglary chargesBurglary charges are serious and will result in a felony record if you are convicted. If you are facing burglary charges, a criminal defense lawyer at George McCranie Law Firm can help.

What Are the Consequences of Conviction?

The consequences of a felony conviction in Georgia are severe, and will affect many areas of your life. In fact, so many rights are lost upon conviction of a felony, that they cannot all be listed here. The basic rights you can lose include the right to:

  • vote (until you are done serving your sentence);
  • sit on a jury;
  • hold public office; and
  • possess a firearm.

However, there are many other consequences of a conviction as well. Below are a few examples:

  • Loss of or ineligibility for obtaining professional licenses;
  • Difficulty getting jobs or termination from jobs;
  • Difficulty getting into schools or suspension from school; and
  • Loss of federal loan eligibility or housing assistance.

If you are facing burglary charges, we can help lessen or avoid all, or at least some, of these consequences.

What Constitutes Burglary in Georgia?

Like all crimes, the crime of burglary is defined by the state requiring that the prosecutor prove each element of the crime. The elements of burglary are as follows:

  1. entering a building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft,
  2. with the intent to commit a felony or theft within.

This means that even if someone enters a building legally and with permission, but they intended to commit a theft or felony inside, they have committed a burglary.

What the Prosecution Has to Prove

Burglary charges require that in addition to proving that you “entered” a premises, the prosecutor also has to prove your “mens rea” (state of mind) when you entered was to commit a theft, or any felony, while inside. Examples of other felonies include, rape, homicide, aggravated assault, or kidnapping.

If you entered the premises only with the intention to commit a misdemeanor (that was not a theft) then, you did not commit a burglary. Similarly, if you entered the property without intending to commit any crime at all, then you did not commit a burglary. That means this law requires the prosecutor to show a very specific state of mind, in order to convict an individual or burglary.

This allows me to fight burglary charges even before trial by:

  • arguing to have your charges reduced as part of a plea deal, or
  • working with the district attorney if there is no evidence to support the accusation that you intended to steal something or commit a felony.

Moreover, if you have to go to trial, your criminal defense lawyer can work to undermine the prosecutor’s case by pointing out the lack of evidence that you intended to commit a felony or theft, and possibly, put on evidence to show that this was not a burglary.

Another avenue for fighting burglary charges is to undermine any identifications, statements or physical evidence which connects you to the scene.

What’s the Difference Between Second and First Degree Burglary Charges?

Second Degree Burglary

Conviction of second degree burglary charge is a felony and is punishable by one to five years in jail. Subsequent second degree burglary convictions are punished more harshly and can result in one to eight years in jail.

As described above, entering a structure or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony is sufficient to support a second-degree burglary charge. That means you do not actually have to take something, or even begin to take something or commit a felony, the prosecutor just has to prove that you intended to do so.

First Degree Burglary

A conviction for first degree burglary charges carries a heavy sentence. It is also a felony, with at least one, and up to 20 years in jail. For a second conviction, the jail time ranges from two to 20 years. And for a third conviction, the punishment ranges from five to 25 years.

In contrast to second-degree burglary, first-degree burglary has an additional element that the prosecutor must prove. That elements is entering a structure which is designed for use as a “dwelling” even if it is unoccupied or even vacant. A “dwelling” is defined as a building “intended for occupancy for residential use.” The clearest example of course, is a single-family home, although many other types of buildings and vehicles such as railroad cars, watercraft and aircraft also are “dwellings” under the law, so long as they are designed for someone to live there. The law punishes burglaries of dwellings more harshly because there is an additional public safety risk to committing this crime where people are likely to be present.

We Can Fight Your Burglary Charges Before Trial

We can help to fight your burglary charges even before you go to trial. There are several avenues which may be available in your case, including the following:

Dismissal of Charges

We may be able to move to have the court dismiss the burglary charges if your constitutional rights were violated. For example, the court can suppress evidence or statements which tie you to the crime, and the judge may dismiss your case if law enforcement:

  • arrested you without probable cause to believe you committed a crime,
  • stopped you without a reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime, or
  • questioned you without advising you of your constitutional rights or despite your request for a lawyer.

Reducing Your Sentence

Even if your case cannot be dismissed, there are many actions we can take to reduce any possible sentence and lessen the harsh consequences facing those with pending burglary charges. We often work with prosecutors negotiating plea deals to:

  • lessen the charges,
  • reduce the sentence, and
  • explore the possibility of alternative pleas or sentencing schemes which lessen or avoid jail time and other consequences of criminal convictions.

Contact George McCranie Law Firm Today

Call George McCranie Law Firm at 912-DUI-ATTY to speak with an attorney experienced in defending against burglary charges.

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