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Burglary and Criminal Trespass Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Burglary and criminal trespass are serious crimes in Pennsylvania. Hiring a burglary and criminal trespass lawyer can be helpful if you have been charged.

Are you facing criminal charges for burglary or criminal trespass? The attorneys at Kitay Law Offices can help you mount a strong defense. First, make sure you understand the following information about burglary and criminal trespass. This will help you grasp the basics before you speak with a burglary and criminal trespass lawyer.

What is Burglary in Pennsylvania?

Under Pennsylvania law, burglary is entering a building with the intent of committing a crime.  This is illegal.

Burglary is a felony throughout Pennsylvania. The degree of the felony depends on the circumstances of the crime. The prosecutor’s goal is to get a burglary conviction. However, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable reasonable doubt, the defendant did both of the following:

  • did not have permission to enter a private property
  • did so with the intention of committing a crime while inside

Intent to Commit a Crime

Proving that a defendant entered the building with the intent to commit a crime is an important piece of a prosecutor’s case. However, it is not necessary that a crime was committed for a guilty verdict to stand. It is only necessary to prove there is an intent to commit the crime for a burglary conviction. This is why you should always speak with a burglary and criminal trespass lawyer to review the facts of your case.

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Criminal Trespass

Unlike burglary, with criminal trespass the defendant must knowingly enter a private property without the permission or authority. A private property for this charge is not simply a building or structure open to the public, like a shopping mall. In order to secure a charge of criminal trespass, the prosecutor must prove the defendant did disobey warning of entry signs without permission.

However, the warning signs must be clearly posted. This is to say, the warning signs are not obstructed by trees or dirt. Thus, ignoring a no trespassing sign, lying about who you are or breaking down a locked gate would support a criminal trespass charge.

Categories of trespass with penalties include a fine, jail time, or both include:

  • Defiant Trespass: This is when a person enters onto property even though there was a notice against doing so.
  • Simple Trespass: When a person knowingly enters private property with the intent to bother the owner or do some damage to the premises. The damage is not as severe as a burglary.
  • Agricultural Trespass: Trespassing onto land used as private property
  • Agricultural Biosecurity: Trespassing into agricultural biosecurity areas: Biosecure areas are places for the management of biological threats. Such threats may be from foreign or widespread organisms, pandemic diseases and bioterrorism.

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Contact a Burglary and Criminal Trespass Lawyer at Kitay Law Offices

If you are facing a burglary or trespass charge, you can contact a criminal defense lawyer at Kitay Law Offices today by calling 888-KITAYLAW. We’ll review the specific facts of your situation and advise you regarding how we can create the best defense for your case. Furthermore, we will make sure a burglary and criminal trespass lawyer is assigned to your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a Burglary and Criminal Trespass Lawyer help me beat burglary and criminal trespass charges?

To begin with, your lawyer will ask a lot of questions. A legal team should conduct a lot of research about the burglary charge.

For example, there will be a need to determine the following:

  • Was the building or structure abandoned at the time of the offense?
  • Was the premises open to the public?
  • Did the defendant have license or privilege to enter the property?

What is included with a criminal trespass charge?

Someone can receive a criminal trespass charge if they knowingly:

  • do not have authorization to enter or remain in a structure
  • enter a structure through a scam
  • break into any building or occupied structure
  • go onto another person’s land to commit a crime

Depending on the facts of a case, the charges could be a summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony property crime.

What does a defiant trespass charge include?

Defiant Trespass means that someone knowingly did not have permission to enter or remain in a place where there is a no trespassing sign posted or actual communication from another person saying “Stop!” Defiant Trespass may be a summary offense, third-degree misdemeanor, or first-degree misdemeanor property crime. A burglary and criminal trespass lawyer can help you determine the likely scenario for your unique situation.

What exactly does intent to commit a crime mean?

The defendant’s state of mind at the time of entry into the building without permission is the determining factor. For a burglary conviction, the defendant must have both decided to commit a crime, and then entered the building to commit a crime.

The crime does not have to be accomplished in order to prove that there is an intent. Proving the defendant did have intent to commit a crime in a building in which he or she is not permitted will satisfy the two elements of burglary. As result, a conviction is more likely.

What is a home invasion?

In Pennsylvania, home invasion is indeed a burglary. The big difference here is that the burglary does not take place in someplace like an office building. It takes place in an actual residence where people live. Consequently, a home invasion can be punished more severely. It may be a felony of the first degree if someone is at home at the time of the burglary.

Pennsylvania follows the Castle Doctrine

Interestingly, home invasions can prove even more dangerous for the defendant than a plain burglary.  This is because Pennsylvania follows a rule called the Castle Doctrine.  In fact, many states have this same rule (feel free to ask your burglary and criminal trespass lawyer for more details). Under this rule, Pennsylvanians have the right to use force to defend themselves or others.  Put simply, you can use force to protect yourself when:

  • you believe the force is immediately necessary;
  • the force is used in order to protect yourself; and
  • you are protecting yourself from another person who is using unlawful force against you

However, there are some circumstances where using force to protect yourself is not allowed.  Some examples may include:

  • resisting arrest
  • you do not actually believe the use of force is necessary to protect yourself
  • you know that you can avoid the use of force by retreating

In addition, the Castle Doctrine allows you to use force to protect others under certain circumstances.  Here, use of force is allowed when:

  • the use of force would be justified in order to protect yourself;
  • based on your observation of the circumstances, you believe that the person you are trying to protect would be justified in using force to protect themselves; and
  • you believe that your use of force is necessary in order to protect the other person

Is it illegal to possess burglar’s tools?

It is illegal to possess burglar’s tools. However, the prosecutor must establish that there is or was the intent to use them in a burglary. The penalties for possession of burglar’s tools include a fine of up to $1,000, up to 3 years in prison, or both. Because these charges are so serious, we always recommend going over your case with a burglary and criminal trespass lawyer.

Examples of burglar’s tools include:

  • Hammers and Screwdrivers – Hammers and screwdrivers are often in a burglar’s toolbox. A hammer can be used to break a window or break through a door. A screwdriver loosens exposed screws and to pry open locks. In addition, these tools are easy to hide and transport.
  • Crowbars, and Slim Jims – A crowbar is the most common tool used by burglars because it is simple to use when prying open a door or window while breaking into a residence or vehicle.

How often does a burglary occur in Pennsylvania?

As of 2016, Pennsylvania experienced 35,520 burglaries per year.  That same year, Philadelphia, alone, had almost 7,000 burglaries.  Further, data compiled as recently as 2018 shows that Pennsylvania has experienced at least 27,000 burglaries every year since 1960.

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