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What if I was Charged with Breaking and Entering?

Breaking and entering is a serious crime in Washington state. If you have been charged with breaking and entering, or if you have been charged with burglary or trespass any other property crime, you should look for an experienced Washington criminal attorney who will be dedicated to your case and will fight hard for you.

What is Breaking and Entering?

The law defines “breaking into” a property as using force to enter a property without permission. The force used can be very minimal: as little as pushing open a door. But in order to be an unlawful entry, the entry into the property must have been done without authorization.

Washington state law defines “entering” in three ways. It can mean breaking into a property, as described in the previous paragraph. It can also mean entering a property without using force, such as by walking through an already opened door. Less commonly, it can also mean a person staying in a property longer than he or she is allowed to be there. For example, someone may legally walk into a store when the store is open, but to then hide in order to remain in the store after closing hours would be considered illegal entry.

Intent to Commit a Crime

The crime of burglary has two parts. First, in order to be convict someone of burglary, prosecutors must prove that the person entered a building unlawfully. Second, they must also prove that the person entered the building with the intent to commit a crime inside the building. The intended crime can be any crime, it doesn’t necessarily have to be burglary.

The mental state of the person committing the crime is very important. The crime they have committed depends, in part, on their intent at the time. If someone broke into and entered a property but they didn’t intend to commit a crime while inside then they did not commit burglary. They have still committed a crime, but it will probably be a lesser charge such as trespass.

Degrees of Burglary

In Washington there are three different charges of burglary. Burglary in the first degree occurs when the person charged has a weapon or assaults someone while in or leaving the building. This is a Class A felony. Residential burglary occurs in a building where somebody lives and is a Class B felony. Burglary in the second degree occurs in a building that is not a residence and is also a Class B felony.

Differences Between Burglary and Criminal Trespass

Both burglary and criminal trespass involve an illegal entry onto a property, but there are two important differences. The first involves the state of mind of the person who committed the illegal entry. Burglary involves the intent to commit a crime within the property but criminal trespass does not. The second difference involves the type of property that is illegally entered. In burglary, the illegal entry must be into a building. In trespass, the illegal entry could be into a building, but it could also be onto land.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been charged with breaking and entering, trespass, or burglary, you are facing potentially serious consequences. You need and deserve aggressive legal representation from an experienced and skillful Washington state criminal attorney who will be dedicated to helping you get the best outcome possible. Fill out our contact form, or call us today!