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Georgia Burglary Laws

Although burglary is often associated with theft or robbery, these are all different types of property crimes. The difference between them usually depends on how the crime is committed. So, for example, robbery is a form of theft that involves the use or threat of force. The crime of burglary requires a defendant to unlawfully enter into a structure such as a home or a business with the intent to commit a crime inside. However, the crime intended inside of a structure is not limited to theft but can include other crimes such as kidnapping or assault.

Georgia burglary laws distinguish between three forms of burglary, first degree burglary, second degree burglary, and "smash and grab" burglary.

The elements for first degree burglary include:

  1. Entering or remaining in an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling house of another or any other dwelling structure; and
  2. The intent to commit a felony or theft inside.

The same elements apply to second degree burglary except that this crime applies to structures that are not used as dwellings.

Smash and grab burglary is a crime against businesses and requires that a defendant:

  1. Intentionally enter a retail establishment;
  2. Intend to commit a theft; and
  3. Cause damages in excess of $500.

Each variant of burglary under Georgia law contains its own set of penalties with rather harsh maximum sentences.

Overview of Georgia Burglary Laws

For more information on the specific burglary laws in Georgia, consult the chart below.

Penalties and Sentences

First Degree Burglary: This is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Second Degree Burglary: This is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Smash and Grab Burglary: This is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Defendants with 4 or more convictions of burglary in any degree may not have their sentences suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld.


Defenses to Georgia burglary laws include:

  • Age (persons under age 13 cannot be found guilty of a crime)
  • Mental incapacity
  • Intoxication
  • Mistake of fact
  • The conduct was justified or excused by the situation (a person breaking into a neighbors house to rescue a child suffering from abuse)


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Georgia Burglary Laws

Charged With Burglary in Georgia? Contact an Attorney Today

As you can see, the penalties for burglary under Georgia law can be significant, especially if you have multiple convictions. However, the elements for each form of burglary can be somewhat specific. This can complicate the job of a prosecutor and also create opportunities for a skilled criminal defense attorney to exploit weaknesses in a case. If you're facing charges, it's important to speak with an experienced Georgia defense attorney as early as possible. 

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