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What are the elements of a burglary charge?

Being charged with burglary can disrupt the life of any Georgia resident. If you face these charges, it’s important to know the elements of the crime. It might help bulk up the defense in your case.

What is burglary?

Burglary is a crime that involves unlawfully entering a building or structure with the intent of committing a crime inside. Sometimes, a person literally breaks into your home or business using force, but the use of force is not always necessary for a break-in to occur. A perpetrator could enter through an open door or window.

While burglary is thought of as a theft crime because the perpetrator usually ends up stealing property, it differs from robbery because it often lacks a victim. There is usually no person in the building or structure at the time when the crime is committed.

What are the elements of burglary?

In a case involving burglary, the prosecution must prove that the elements of the crime are in place. The first, basic one is that a building or structure is involved. Burglary cannot occur outdoors in a public park, for example, because there is no structure to enter.

The next element is the unlawful entry of that building or structure. It could be a house, apartment, place of business or even a shed or vehicle. As long as the defendant entered the structure when they had no legal permission to do so, it counts as burglary. There doesn’t have to be any literal breaking-in involved as the person can enter through an opening in the structure. There is usually no victim in the building or structure.

The final element of burglary is the crime that’s committed once the person is inside the building or structure. For example, they might steal jewelry or vandalize the property. If this element is absent, the person could be charged with breaking and entering instead, which may change their criminal defense strategy.

Many people confuse breaking and entering, burglary, and robbery, but they are three very different crimes. Understanding the difference can help people who have been charged with one of these crimes.