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What is the Definition of Burglary in Colorado?

Historically, burglary consisted of "breaking and entering a dwelling at night with felonious intent." Current statutes have modified and broadened the scope of the law. Under Colorado law, there need not be any "breaking and entering" to qualify as burglary (that would still fall under the "enters unlawfully" language of the statutes); you could be at someone's home as a guest, or a patron of a local business, but when you are asked to leave an refuse to do so, you are considered to be "remaining unlawfully." Burglary is also no longer limited to a dwelling, that language has been supplemented to include "a building or occupied structure." In addition, case law has determined that one need not have "felonious intent" when they first enter the premises, the intent to commit a crime can be formed after the lawful or unlawful entry. Colorado law also provides that possession of burglary tools is a separate criminal offense.

For many of people, when they hear the term "burglary," they think of a masked intruder wearing a ski mask who breaks into a house in the dead of night to steal valuables, or perhaps an infamous thief who pulls off a daring heist at a museum or casino, Ocean's Eleven style. While both of these instances are properly categorized as burglary, there are any number of other scenarios which could result in burglary charges. By way of example, burglary is not limited to a dwelling or commercial building; Colorado law provides that breaking into a vending machine qualifies as third degree burglary.

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 are the Burglary Laws in Colorado?

Burglary in Colorado is divided into three different levels – First Degree, Second Degree, and Third Degree. Put simply, prosecutors make a decision on criminal charges based on where the crime took place (home versus business, etc.); what was stolen (money, commercial goods, prescription medicines, etc.); and the manner in which the burglary was carried out (stealing from an abandoned warehouse versus a violent episode involving a deadly weapon).

It will be helpful to examine the different statutes in reverse order, starting with third degree burglary (least serious offense) and working our way to first degree burglary (most serious offense). A person commits third degree burglary if, with intent to commit a crime, he or she breaks into any vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safe deposit box, coin telephone, or other similar equipment, whether or not coin operated. C.R.S. 18-4-204. Third degree burglary is a class 5 felony, but if the object of the burglary was a controlled substance lawfully kept on the property (think of a pharmacy as opposed to a drug dealer's residence), it becomes a class 4 felony.

Second degree burglary, by contrast, occurs when a person knowingly breaks an entrance into, enters unlawfully in, or remains unlawfully after a lawful or unlawful entry in a building or occupied structure with intent to commit therein a crime against another person or property.

Second degree burglary is a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony if:

  • (a) it is a burglary of a dwelling;
  • (b) the objective of the burglary is the theft of a controlled substance, lawfully kept within any building or occupied structure; or
  • (c) the objective of the burglary is the theft of one or more firearms or ammunition.

As we can see, the law for second degree burglary steps up the penalties from third degree to reflect the seriousness of the offense and the dangers inherent in breaking into a home versus an unattended vending machine, not to mention the items being stolen (controlled substances, guns and ammunition).

First-degree burglary, the most serious of these offenses, occurs when a person knowingly enters unlawfully, or remains unlawfully after a lawful or unlawful entry, in a building or occupied structure with intent to commit therein a crime, other than trespass, against another person or property, and if in effecting entry or while in the building or occupied structure or in immediate flight therefrom, the person or another participant in the crime assaults or menaces any person, the person or another participant is armed with explosives, or the person or another participant uses a deadly weapon or possesses and threatens the use of a deadly weapon.

First degree burglary is a class 3 felony, but if the property involved is a controlled substance, within a pharmacy or other place having lawful possession thereof, such a person commits first degree burglary of controlled substances, which is a class 2 felony.

What Are the Penalties for Burglary in Colorado?

  • First degree burglary: a class 3 felony is punishable with a jail sentence between 4 and 12 years, and up to $750,000 in fines; a class 2 felony is punishable with a jail sentence between 8 and 24 years, and up to $1,000,000 in fines.
  • Second degree burglary: a class 4 felony is punishable with a jail sentence between 2 and 6 years, and up to $500,000 in fines; a class 3 felony is punishable with a jail sentence between 4 and 12 years, and up to $750,000 in fines.
  • Third degree burglary: a class 5 felony is punishable with a jail sentence between 1 and 3 years, and up to $100,000 in fines; a class 4 felony is punishable with a jail sentence between 2 and 6 years, and up to $500,000 in fines.

Reach Out to Our Criminal Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation!

If you were arrested for a burglary in Colorado Springs or El Paso County, the criminal defense lawyers at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC can provide the fierce representation you need to protect your rights and future. You owe it to yourself to have someone on your side when you go to court; someone who understands how the prosecution should be handled and that will represent your best interests in front of a judge or jury. You can rely on our law firm to provide strong support so you can get through this difficult experience and put it all behind you.

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.

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