Overview of Pennsylvania Burglary Laws
Pennsylvania law defines burglary as entering any portion of a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime inside, unless the premises are open to the public at the time or the defendant is allowed to enter.
The important element to note is that the defendant must have the intent to commit some kind of crime once he/she has entered the building. It does not matter whether or not the planned crime actually took place. If the defendant had the intent to commit it after entering the building or structure, then a burglary has been committed.
See FindLaw's Property Crimes section to learn more about similar crimes.
Also, it does not require that any physical breaking and entering has occurred. The door to the building may have been left wide open and the defendant could have just stepped inside freely.
If the defendant commits a crime in addition to burglary at the time of his/her offense, the defendant may only be charged with burglary and not the crime committed once he/she was inside. However, if that crime constituted a first or second degree felony, then that may be charged separately. Thus the defendant may be convicted of both burglary as well as the criminal charge for the felony crime committed inside the structure or building.
Defenses to Burglary Charges
- The building or structure was abandoned
- Lack of intent to commit a crime inside the building or structure
- Premises were open to the public at the time
- The defendant had a license to enter the property
- Consent of owner of property
See Burglary Defenses for more details.
Penalties and Sentences
Burglary in Pennsylvania is a first degree felony and may carry a jail sentence of up to twenty years in prison. However, if the building or structure that the defendant entered was not meant for overnight accommodation and no one was inside at the time of the defendant's entry, it may only be a second degree felony. This carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison. The judge may use his/her discretion and add a fine to the penalty as well.
See Burglary Penalties and Sentencing for more in-depth details.
Pennsylvania Burglary Statute
Pennsylvania Burglary Statute - Title 18, Section 3502
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Pennsylvania Criminal Laws Related Resources:
Facing Burglary Charges? A Pennsylvania Attorney Can Help
Burglary charges are generally more severe than simple theft, since they also involve breaking into the property of another. If you have been charged with this crime, the prosecution's case will depend on the strength of the evidence and witness testimony. An experienced attorney can challenge the validity of the evidence and will advocate on your behalf. If you're facing charges, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.