someone wearing gloves using crowbar to enter home

When people think of burglars, they may picture someone in a black ski mask slinking around their property, looking for a way inside to steal from them. However, it’s important to note that burglary isn’t only charged when someone commits theft. As such, it’s essential to understand what warrants these charges and the penalties one can face if convicted. If this reflects your circumstances, you’ll want to keep reading. The following blog explores what you must know about these charges and how a Cobb County criminal defense lawyer can assist you if you’re in legal trouble.

What Constitutes a Burglary Charge in Georgia?

In Georgia, someone commits burglary when they enter a house or other structure, whether occupied or not, with intent to commit a felony or theft crime. For example, if someone enters a home without permission from the owners and with the intent to steal a television, this warrants first-degree burglary. However, if they are entering the home with the intent to assault the occupants, this also constitutes these charges. Second-degree burglary occurs when someone enters any other property, like a vacant building, vehicle, or train car with the intent to commit a crime.

It’s important to understand that Georgia also has specific charges for those who burglarize retail locations. Known as “smash and grab,” this occurs when someone enters a retail store with intent to commit theft and leaves damages worth $500 or more in their wake.

What Penalties Can Someone Face if Convicted?

Both first- and second-degree burglary and first- and second-degree smash and grab charges are felony convictions in Georgia.

If charged with first-degree burglary or smash and grab burglary, the accused can face up to 20 years in prison. If it’s a smash and grab, they can incur up to $100,000 in fines. For a second-degree burglary or smash and grab, you’ll likely only face up to 5 years in prison for the crime.

Are There Any Potential Defenses for this Crime?

Though it may not seem possible, there are defenses you can employ to help evade or mitigate the burglary charges against you. One of the most common methods used is to prove one of the two elements of the crime was not present. As mentioned, it must be established that you entered the structure without permission and had intent to commit a crime. If you can prove you had permission or did not intend to commit a crime, you may be able to avoid the charges against you.

Additionally, your attorney may rely on other defenses if you are charged. For example, they may claim that this is a case of mistaken identity, as you have an alibi proving you are innocent. However, they may also be able to show the conduct was justified, such as entering a home to help someone in need.

If you are facing a burglary charge, you should not try to navigate these charges on your own. Instead, it’s in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options. Failure to do so can have significant impacts on the outcome of your case, and they will likely be unfavorable to your circumstances. However, the Miller Law Practice is ready to assist with any charges you may face if accused of burglary. Contact us today to connect with a member of our team to learn how we can help you.