What Is Third Degree Burglary?

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Picture this: you return to your quiet home at the end of a long day, but there’s something in the air that makes you question if someone else has been there without you knowing. How do you put your mind at ease?

Well, this is why we have laws preventing unauthorized access. Burglary is defined as the act of entering a home or building unauthorized, and depending on the location, there may not need to be intent to commit another crime besides that. Illegal entry can protect any property, such as a person’s garage, shed, and even an automobile.

Burglary is often related to other crimes, such as theft or robbery, and may be mislabeled or used to improperly describe an event, but by law, these are different crimes. Theft, at least in the State of Texas (Sec. 31.03) is when a person commits an offense to illegally take property intending to deprive the owner of property. In most states, to be charged with robbery, there must be a victim present at the scene who is intimidated or otherwise forced to lose their belongings. Burglary can simply be the act of unlawfully entering the property. An important thing to remember is burglary laws will always vary from state to state.

There are different degrees of burglary in nearly every state. Some jurisdictions have up to four degrees of burglary determined by a variety of factors relating to the property entered and its occupants. Third-degree burglary, also known as simple burglary, is typically the unauthorized entry of unoccupied property that is not associated with a violent crime.

The Various Degrees of Burglary

There are varying degrees of burglary to define the severity, and therefore the punishment, for the crime. The more severe the crime, the lower the number that is used to define the degree. Therefore, the harshest punishments are for first-degree burglaries, while third-degree burglaries tend to be the least severe in terms of punishment.

Generally, factors contributing to a classification include whether the property was occupied, whether the burglar was armed, whether violence was committed during the burglary, and whether there was intent to commit a specific crime before entering the property. Burglary, in some areas, may be defined up to the fourth degree, which is a less severe offense than third, second, or first-degree burglary charges.

In many cases, a first-time offender may be subject to a third-degree burglary charge if he or she knowingly entered a building with the intent to commit the crime. Whether or not another crime occurred during the break-in does not matter. For instance, if a person crawled through a basement window, but fled after hearing a family dog, he or she can still be charged with a burglary offense.

Legal Definitions Vary Between States

Sentences for third-degree burglary convictions carry reduced maximum sentences. For instance, in New York, a first-degree burglary conviction has a maximum prison sentence of 25 years while a third-degree burglary sentence will be a maximum of seven years. Under New York law, first-degree burglaries will reflect a more serious crime. In this case, prosecutors must not only prove unlawful entry, but also that a weapon was used, or the victim was injured during the burglary.

Not all states have a penal code that includes third-degree burglary. For instance, California only has first-degree and second-degree burglary charges. Second-degree burglary in California is simply defined as a burglary that does not meet the criteria for first-degree burglary.

In Arizona, most third-degree burglary offenses are reserved for those who break in and steal commercial property or those who commit auto theft.

How can you defend your home or business against third-degree burglary?

Third-degree burglary tends to be the most common type of burglary committed. Sometimes, third-degree burglaries can be defined as “wobblers.” This means that they may sometimes be considered felonies and at other times be considered misdemeanors.

According to this definition, individuals committing third-degree burglary may not have a specific crime in mind when entering a property. This can mean that the most common type of burglary is simply a crime of opportunity, and as a result, one of the best ways to prevent a burglary is to provide a deterrent, such as a home security system, preferably one that is equipped with security cameras.

Protection Against Burglaries

One thing is for sure, any type of burglary feels like a violation. Something is disturbing about the thought of someone entering your home and invading your space. Unfortunately, many burglars are never caught and the idea that they could strike again can make you feel unsafe.

However, there’s no reason you should abandon the home you love. Instead, the best protection for your home is a reliable security system with 24/7 professional monitoring. Benefits of a monitored system will include:

  • Property Protection

  • Deter Burglars

  • Potential Discounts on Home Insurance

  • Fire and Carbon Monoxide Monitoring

  • Monitoring Children and the Elderly

  • Checking on Pets

  • Remote Home Access

  • Home Automation

  • Peace of Mind

Want more information about how to protect your home? Call us today at Brinks Home™ to speak with a Security Consultant. We can help you find the perfect security system to protect your home from unwanted visitors and give you an extra layer of peace of mind.

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