What Is First Degree Burglary?

Understanding This Charge


December 14, 2020

30First Degree Burglary1

Each state has different laws regarding how they determine the severity of the crime. For instance, what is considered first degree burglary in one state may be tried as second-degree burglary in another state. The following are some general guidelines to determine whether someone would be guilty of a first-degree burglary. Penalties vary too, but most first-degree burglaries will have harsher sentences than lesser charges.

Burglary 101

For all counts of burglary, the defendant of the crime has to knowingly enter a premise with the intent to commit a crime. According to Find Law, unlike theft and robbery, a burglary charge doesn’t require that the defendant actually leave with stolen property. In fact, not all burglary charges involve stolen goods. A defendant can be charged with burglary if the intent was another crime — including murder and sexual assault. The very core of burglary is that an unlawful trespass occurred.

First Degree Burglary

First degree burglary will carry the highest penalties because it is considered the most serious offense. In most of all state laws, the first part of the crime will state the person entered the dwelling with criminal intent. To be guilty of first-degree burglary in most states, the prosecutor must also prove one of the following:

  • Defendant was armed with a deadly weapon

  • Caused physical injury to non-participants in the crime

  • Threatened use of a dangerous instrument

  • Displayed knife or firearm

In states like South Carolina, there are additional circumstances when a first-degree burglary charge can be applied. For instance, first degree burglary can be leveled at a defendant with two or more prior burglary convictions. On the other hand, in California, for a person to be charged with first degree burglary, the court must prove that unlawful entry occurred in an inhabited dwelling.

Burglary Prevention

Being a victim of any type of burglary is a horrifying thought. Once a burglar enters the home unlawfully, there’s no telling what type of crime will take place. Although losing personal property and cash is a huge blow, if the burglary turns violent, the break-in can have devastating results.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, “one burglary occurs every 12.4 minutes and 78.6 percent of burglaries take place at a residential dwelling.”

Although having a dog and choosing secure locks on your doors and windows can offer moderate protection against burglaries, the only surefire way to keep your home and family safe is with a monitored home security system. Security systems act as deterrents for burglars and may stop your home from being a target. If a burglar does attempt to enter the home, authorities will be alerted, and police will be called to the home.

Brinks Home™ is here to provide your home with tailored security. Give us a call today to start a FREE, customized quote.

Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.

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