Are you facing criminal charges for burglary in Columbus, OH? The time to begin defending yourself is right now. That’s the only way to minimize the consequences of your arrest and protect your future. Enlisting the help of a qualified Columbus criminal defense attorney can make a massive difference in how your case is resolved.
So, don’t hesitate to call James D. Owen, LLC for immediate legal assistance. Our attorneys have been defending clients against burglary charges in central Ohio for years. We know how much is at stake and will do everything in our power to secure the best possible outcome for you. To get started, all you have to do is reach out to our burglary defense attorneys to arrange a free consultation today.
Understanding Burglary Charges in Ohio
When you hear the term “burglary,” you might immediately think of a person breaking and entering into a home with the intent to ransack the place. That’s how the crime is often portrayed in the movies and on television.
In fact, that’s pretty much the gist of the crime of burglary in many states across the country. However, the Ohio state laws concerning burglary are a little bit different. In fact, breaking and entering and burglary are distinct and separate crimes.
Burglary is defined in Ohio Rev. Code § 2911.12. You can face criminal charges for burglary if, through the use of force, stealth, or deception, you:
- Trespass in an occupied structure when another person other than an accomplice is present with the purpose to commit another crime
- Trespass in an occupied structure where someone lives when someone else is present with the purpose to commit another crime, or
- Trespass in an occupied structure with the purpose to commit another crime.
More simply, burglary involves trespassing in a home or business with the purpose to commit another crime while you’re there.
Elements of Burglary in Ohio
Remember, the state will have the burden of proving that you have broken the law. To do this, prosecutors will have to prove the elements of the specific charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Let’s take a look at those elements.
In order to be convicted on burglary charges in Columbus, you must have trespassed. Trespassing, as defined under ORC § 2911.21, means that you’ve knowingly entered someone else’s property without permission or remained there after you’ve been asked to leave. In other words, you’re on someone else’s private property without their consent.
So, you can’t commit burglary if you’ve been invited onto the premises by the owner. You must have entered the premises without consent or refused to leave when asked.
Force, Stealth, or Deception
Burglary requires that your conduct involves force, stealth, or deception. Examples might include:
- Picking a lock to gain access to a house or structure
- Hiding out of sight and waiting until the coast is clear to climb through an unlocked window, or
- Convincing a homeowner that you work for the gas company in order to gain access to the house.
Wait, didn’t we just say that you can’t be charged with burglary if you’re invited into the structure? That’s true, unless the invitation was obtained by deceiving the owner.
Burglary requires that you trespass in a structure that’s occupied. This doesn’t have to mean that someone is physically in the structure while you’re there. Rather, occupied structure refers to any “ house, building, outbuilding, watercraft, aircraft, railroad car, truck, trailer, tent, or other structure, vehicle, or shelter, or any portion thereof” that’s
- Used as a permanent or temporary habitation or dwelling
- Specifically adapted for overnight accommodation, or
- Likey to be inhabited at the time of an offense.
In other words, an occupied structure means a house, a home, a business, or anything else where a person might live or sleep.
Whether or not someone is there is irrelevant. However, the charges are more serious when someone is home.
Purpose to Commit Another Crime
Finally, burglary requires that you trespass in an occupied structure with the purpose of committing another crime. This is really important because it means that you can’t face charges for burglary if you decide to commit a crime once you’re already inside. You must have trespassed in the occupied structure for the specific purpose of committing another crime.
That crime doesn’t necessarily have to be a crime of theft. In fact, if the purpose of the trespass is to commit a theft offense, you could face charges for breaking and entering, rather than burglary.
Penalties For a Burglary Conviction in Columbus – Is breaking and entering a felony?
Burglary is always a felony offense in the state of Ohio. However, the degree of the offense will depend on the specifics of each individual case.
Second Degree Felony: Burglary is a second-degree felony when the crime involves trespassing with the intent to commit a crime when another person is present or likely to be present. A second-degree felony is punishable by:
- Between 2 and 8 years in prison, and
- $15,000 in fines.
Third Degree Felony: Burglary is a third-degree felony when the crime involves trespassing with the intent to commit a crime when no one else is present. A third-degree felony is punishable by:
- Between 9 months and 36 months in prison, and
- $10,000 in fines.
Fourth Degree Felony: Burglary is a fourth-degree felony when the crime involves trespassing in a habitation when another person is present or likely to be present. A fourth degree felony is punishable by:
- Between 6 months and 18 months in prison.
In addition to time behind bars and fines, you can also be sentenced to a term of probation. The terms of your probation might require you to go to counseling, complete community service hours, or even abstain from drugs and alcohol.
Understanding Aggravated Burglary in Ohio
Aggravated burglary is a separate criminal offense. Under ORC § 2911.11, aggravated burglary involves:
- Trespassing in an occupied structure when others are present
- With the purpose to commit another crime, AND
- Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical harm on another, or
- Having a deadly weapon.
So, if you have a deadly weapon or attempt or cause someone else to get hurt, you can face charges for aggravated burglary. In Ohio, this is a first-degree felony. If convicted, you could face anywhere between 3 and 11 years in prison and be ordered to pay up to $20,000 in fines.
Defending Burglary Charges in Columbus
Keep in mind that you are innocent until proven guilty. State prosecutors have the very tough job of proving that beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s an incredibly high standard of proof. You can make their job even more difficult by having our Columbus criminal attorneys assert a strong and aggressive defense on your behalf.
As we build your defense, our team will meticulously investigate the circumstances of your criminal case. We’ll enlist the aid of experts to help us gather and analyze evidence – including anything obtained during the pre-trial discovery phase. We’ll comb through case law and conduct in-depth legal research to help us identify any potential arguments that could be raised on your behalf.
Commonly used defenses to burglary charges include:
- You didn’t trespass on the property
- The structure can’t be considered an occupied structure or habitation
- You didn’t trespass with the purpose to commit a crime
- You’ve been falsely accused or mistakenly identified
- You did not commit a crime after you trespassed in the structure
- Your arrest was unlawful, a search was illegal, or your rights were violated in some other way.
We won’t just raise arguments to justify or explain your alleged acts. We’ll also find where the state’s case is weakest and attempt to exploit those areas in your favor. We’ll challenge the prosecution every step of the way, making it as difficult as possible to build a strong case against you.
Our Columbus Burglary Defense Lawyers Are Here For You
Have you recently been arrested or charged with burglary in Columbus? Burglary is a serious felony, so it’s important that you are fully aware of your legal rights and options. The Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC can help.
For years, our criminal defense lawyers in Columbus have worked hard to help clients beat criminal burglary charges. Time and time again, we’re successful. We’re regularly able to get evidence dismissed, have charged dropped, and secure not guilty verdicts at trial. If your future is on the line, we’re here to help you, too.
Simply give our Columbus, Ohio law office a call or connect with us online to learn more. We offer a free consultation, so contact our law firm today.