Burglary Defense Lawyer in Colorado Springs
Benefit from the Experience of a Former Prosecutor
In Colorado, the crime of burglary can occur under many different circumstances. For many people, the idea of burglary tends to conjure up images of masked people sneaking into houses and stealing valuables in the middle of the night. While these facts certainly would constitute burglary, many times, burglary does not look anything like this. Often, we will see burglary arise out of situations in which someone is on another person’s property without that person’s consent and a confrontation ensues. Many times, the person charged with burglary may even have initially been welcome on the property, but then refused to leave after they were asked.
While some burglary charges can carry more severe punishments than others, every burglary charge is a felony and requires a skilled lawyer to ensure you are treated fairly. A knowledgeable Colorado Springs burglary attorney can defend against these charges and help mitigate the negative long-term consequences you could face.
If you have been charged with burglary, you should call the experienced team at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC immediately. Dial (719) 215-8049 to schedule your free initial consultation.
What Is Burglary?
Burglary is a felony in Colorado and is charged either in the first, second, or third degree. First and second degree burglary charges are probably similar to what many people imagine when they think of a burglary. They both involve breaking into a building to commit a crime. Third degree burglary, on the other hand, involves breaking into a financial piece of equipment.
Third Degree Burglary
A person commits third degree burglary if, with intent to commit a crime, that person enters or breaks into a vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or some other similar piece of equipment. Third degree burglary is a class 5 felony unless it was done to obtain a controlled substance, in which case it is a class 4 felony.
Second Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary occurs when a person knowingly and unlawfully enters, remains, or breaks into an occupied structure with intent to commit a crime inside, against the property or another person. Second degree burglary is normally a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony if it was done to a dwelling, or with the intent to steal lawfully possessed controlled substances, firearms, or ammunition.
First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary is similar to second degree, in that it occurs when a person knowingly and unlawfully enters, remains, or breaks into an occupied structure with intent to commit a crime inside (except trespassing), against the property or another person. The primary difference is that first degree burglary also requires that the accused also menaces or assaults another person, possesses and threatens the use of a deadly weapon, or is armed with explosives. First degree burglary is a class 3 felony unless it involves controlled substances within a pharmacy or other place that has lawful possession of the substances, in which case it is a class 2 felony. Additionally, first degree burglary can be given an enhanced charge of being a “crime of violence” if the perpetrator used, or possessed and threatened the use of a deadly weapon, or caused serious bodily injury or death to another person who was not a participant in the crime. First degree burglary as a crime of violence is the most serious form of burglary.
What Are the Possible Penalties for Burglary?
Burglary is always a felony offense in Colorado, which means that it is an extremely serious charge to be facing. Burglary can range anywhere from a class 5 felony to a much more serious class 2 felony.
The penalties for the various degrees of burglary are as follows:
- Third degree burglary (class 5 felony): 1 to 3 years prison and/or $1,000 to $100,000 fine
- Third degree burglary for theft of controlled substance (class 4 felony): 2 to 6 years prison and/or $2,000 to $500,000 fine
- Second degree burglary (class 4 felony): 2 to 6 years prison and/or $2,000 to $500,000 fine
- Second degree burglary of dwelling or for theft of controlled substance (class 3 felony): 4 to 12 years prison and/or $3,000 to $750,000 fine
- First degree burglary (class 3 felony): 4 to 12 years prison and/or $3,000 to $750,000 fine
- First degree burglary for theft of controlled substance (class 2 felony): 8 to 24 years prison and/or $5,000 to $1 million fine
- First degree burglary (crime of violence): 16 to 48 years mandatory prison
With the potential punishment of years of prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines, burglary obviously is an extremely serious charge to be facing in the state of Colorado, regardless of the specific level of charges. That is why it is so important for you to contact a criminal defense firm like Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the seriousness of the charges and possible punishments you are facing. A knowledgeable burglary lawyer in Colorado Springs may also be able to help you feel more comfortable knowing what is realistic in your case, and if there are any mitigating factors that can decrease the potential punishment.
Defenses for Burglary
Every burglary case has potential defenses that may apply, but it takes a good attorney to be able to spot them in a case and use them most effectively. One example of a legal defense for burglary is if you were lawfully on the property. Obviously, if you are the legal owner of a property, or if you are invited, licensed, or otherwise privileged to be on a property, you cannot be guilty of burglary because you were lawfully on the property. This comes into play when law enforcement officials are operating under a mistake of fact about who you are, whether you own the property, or whether you have a right to be on the property. Similarly, if you did not know you were unlawfully on a property, you may have a legal defense for burglary. Another key element of burglary is that you knowingly enter unlawfully, or remain on the property unlawfully. That means that if you did not know you were not lawfully allowed to be on the premises, you may have a legal claim to defend against the charge of burglary.
Another legal defense to burglary is if you did not have the intent to commit a crime while on the property. Burglary requires that a person have intent to commit a crime while unlawfully being on the property. Many burglary charges arise from a situation in which someone was lawfully on the property of another person but eventually are asked to leave. This often happens in domestic violence cases and many other situations where the individuals involved actually know each other, but tensions are high and an argument ensues. When the person who was invited to the property is no longer welcome and is asked to leave remains on the property, they are doing so unlawfully. At that time, if they intend to commit a crime against that other person such as criminal mischief, harassment, menacing, assault, etc. they have committed burglary. It is important, however, that the intent to commit the crime coincides with the moment that the person is unlawfully on the property. If intent to commit a crime is not present at the actual time the accused was unlawfully on the property, burglary could not have occurred.
There are many more defenses that apply to burglary, as well as to criminal charges more generally. When it comes to defending against burglary charges, it is vital that you have a criminal attorney that knows what those defenses are, how to spot them in your case, and how to approach them from a tactical standpoint. With an attorney who can incorporate legal defenses in negotiation with the district attorney, it is far more likely that you will receive favorable offers from the district attorney, or possibly even outright dismissal of the case. Additionally, a criminal defense attorney who knows burglary laws and can persuasively argue legal defenses at trial may dramatically increase your chances of being found not guilty.
Contact Us About Your Burglary Case Today
Every burglary case has its own complexities, potential defenses, and mitigating factors. However, the stakes are always the same. Our experienced Colorado Springs burglary defense lawyer will be able to help you understand what your charges mean and what the potential penalties are. A knowledgeable attorney will also be able to assess what mitigating factors you may have in your case and explain what legal defenses are available to you. This information will allow you to have a realistic understanding of your case and the best methods of approaching it.
If you have been charged with burglary, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today for a completely free initial consultation.