The laws of burglary vary according to jurisdiction. Commonly, burglary is a criminal offence involving the breaking and entering of a dwelling or building. When breaking and entering, the person must have the intent to commit a crime. Depending on the severity of the crime, burglary is classified into different degrees and, generally, each degree is considered a felony.
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First-degree burglary usually imposes a maximum penalty of life in prison. The law states that one of three conditions must apply to constitute first-degree burglary. The burglar knowingly enters a dwelling or building without consent and: 1) uses a dangerous weapon during the commission of the crime; 2) assaults or threatens injury to another person in the building; and/or 3) the building is occupied at any time during the commission of the crime.
Second-degree burglary essentially imposes a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. For a crime to constitute second-degree burglary, two conditions must apply. The burglar knowingly enters a dwelling or building without consent and: 1) the building is a home, pharmacy or financial institution; and/or 2) enters the premises forcibly or uses a tool to gain access to property or money.
A crime of burglary in the third degree usually imposes a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The law considers a crime to be third-degree burglary if the burglar knowingly breaks and enters into a building or dwelling while attempting to steal or commit another crime. The crime must be considered a felony.
Fourth-degree burglary essentially imposes a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. The law states that a crime is considered fourth-degree burglary if the burglary knowingly breaks and enters into a building or dwelling while attempting to steal or commit another crime. The crime must be considered a misdemeanour.
Some jurisdictions add an additional condition when constituting the crime of first-degree burglary. These jurisdictions require the burglary to occur at night.
Some jurisdictions also consider breaking and entry into a vehicle as the crime of burglary.
The class of felonies differs according to jurisdictions. First-degree burglary may be considered a Class A felony in one jurisdiction and a Class B felony in another.
Courts impose punishments according to the type of crime and criminal history. Courts also consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances when determining punishment.
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