Common Defenses Against Burglary
If you're been accused or charged with burglary, you might be wondering what defense your attorney can use to help your case. Even though you may been trespassing or even breaking in, there are still some defenses that can help get you off the charge or at least reduce your sentence. Here are some common defenses that might apply to your specific case.
1. You might have been intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Even though you might not want to admit being intoxicated, in the case of defending burglary, it can actually help you. Being drunk is not usually a crime, and even if there are charges, the sentences for something like public drunkenness or disturbance will be lower than a sentence for burglary.
Burglary is more than just breaking in to a place. It also deal with intent. Usually, burglary suggests that you're trespassing or otherwise gaining access with the intent to commit another crime, such as thieving or assault. When you are under the influence of a substance that impairs your judgement, it's harder to determine and argue your actual intent.
2. You were forced into burglary.
Some people commit crimes under duress from other people or circumstances. For example, if someone held a person you know hostage until you agreed to commit the burglary, your lawyer could use these circumstances in your defense.
You also may not be convicted of burglary if you were forced to act because of pain or danger to your own life. Each set of circumstances is different, and your lawyer can argue your specific case with this defense especially if did feel like you had no choice.
3. The person who was victim to the burglary provided consent for your actions.
You might be accused of burglary when in reality, you were fully at license to act because the owner of the property or building granted you access and provided some sort of consent for what occurred.
For example, if you were a college student and heard about a large dorm party, consent is implied, negating the break-in. If while you were at the party, the owner asked you to take a valuable from the premises, you would not be guilty. However, it's important to realize that consent must be given by a person able to think clearly. Mental illness, dementia, or intoxication can invalidate consent.
4. There's not enough evidence.
In the legal system, you are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were present and that burglary actually occurred. Without evidence, including witness testimonies, police arrest records, security video or camera stills, or the unexplained presence of DNA, it's difficult to get a conviction. You can also explore the reality of your own alibi. Cameras can lack clarity, and witness identification can be faulty. A proven alibi will also prove your innocence.
5. You are guilty for a lesser crime.
It's always better to get a sentence for a less serious crime. Less serious charges result in less (if any) time in prison, reduced fines, or alternative options like community service and restitution. If the prosecution can definitely place you at the scene with evidence, you might instead accept a plea deal for breaking in and entering or for basic theft instead of burglary. Burglary can sometimes be prosecuted as a felony, so if your lawyer can help reduce that charge to a misdemeanor, you'll be better off in the future.
If you are accused of burglary, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney through law firms such as Cheryl Brown Attorney at Law.