Burglary is a criminal offense that can get charged as either a felony or misdemeanor in Georgia. Whether you are facing criminal charges for burglary or you have a loved one accused of this crime, it is important to understand the three main elements of burglary.
Breaking and entering
This is the first element of a burglary. In order to bring criminal charges, the prosecution must prove that the defendant broke into someone’s property illegally. This means entering without consent or authority. Breaking in can include opening an unlocked door or window.
Structures or occupied spaces
For the prosecution to bring criminal charges, the offense must take place in a building or enclosed area capable of housing people, animals or anything similar. This can include homes, apartments, sheds and cars.
Proving that the defendant broke into a piece of property that was open and abandoned may not suffice per this definition. For instance, if the defendant broke into a fenced-off space that was not capable of housing people, animals or property, under criminal defense laws, the charges against them would likely be weak.
Intent to commit a crime
To qualify as burglary, the defendant must also have intended to commit a criminal act in the space, like stealing or destruction. The prosecution may not need to prove this element beyond reasonable doubt, but they do need enough evidence for it. If the defendant entered an area or space without criminal intent, such as to take a nap, then criminal charges would not apply under burglary laws.
As you can see, it’s possible for a suspect to get acquitted of criminal charges for burglary if the prosecution does not have enough evidence. These three elements have to be very clear and evident in order for the defendant to get convicted.