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What Is Burglary? 

The crime of burglary occurs when a person obtains unlawful entry into a property, building, or business with the intent to commit a crime. The criminal’s goal is to remain undiscovered, which is why the victim is usually not around when the crime is committed. Even if the crime or theft isn’t carried out to completion, the criminal will still be charged with burglary. As long as the person enters onto a premises illegally with the intent to commit a crime, it’s considered burglary.

Burglary vs Robbery: What’s The Difference?

As we said above, burglary is when a person enters a building or premises without permission with the intent to commit a crime. With burglary, a crime doesn’t have to occur for someone to face burglary charges. 

With robbery, a person steals something of value (money, jewelry, etc.). The criminal must have the intent to steal without permission, intend to keep the stolen property, and may use force if needed to obtain the property. So, a robber by definition must go through with the crime.  

Different Degrees of Burglary

  • First-Degree: When someone enters a home with the intent to commit theft or violence with a weapon. 
  • Second-Degree: When someone enters a business with the intent to commit violence or theft. 
  • Third-Degree: When someone breaks into a premises without a certain cause or intent.
  • Fourth-Degree: When someone enters a premises and takes items of value. 

What Charges For Burglary Can One Receive? 

  • Felony: Usually, those who are charged with burglary commit a felony offense. If charged, the criminal could receive 20+ years in prison. 
  • Misdemeanor Felony: Some states may charge a burglar with a misdemeanor felony based on how serious the crime was.  
  • Fines: Burglars are usually required to pay a fine for the crime committed, usually $1,000 or less. If charged with a felony, the criminal may face fines of $100,000 or more. 
  • Restitution: A burglar may have to pay restitution for any property stolen or lost. 
  • Probation: A judge may require a burglar to meet certain terms and check-in with their probation officer independently or on top of their jail or prison sentence. 

Examples of Burglary Cases: 

Burglary Statistics (FBI):

  • About 1,230,149 burglaries occurred in 2018.
    • Burglaries With Forcible Entry: 56.7%
    • Burglaries With Unlawful Entries: 36.7% 
    • Burglaries Involving Attempted Forcible Entry: 6.6%
  • In 2018, burglary victims suffered about $3.4 billion in property losses. 
  • 65.5% of all burglaries occurred on residential properties. 

View our other Glossary Terms here

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.