Contrary to popular belief, burglary isn’t always associated with theft. To have committed burglary, you must have trespassed, by “stealth, force or deception,” in an occupied structure that’s currently being used, or a section of it that’s currently being used, and one of the following were true:
- You were trying to commit an offense when someone other than an accomplice was there
- You went to someone’s home to commit a crime when someone other than an accomplice was there or likely to be there
- You were trying to commit a crime when nobody besides an accomplice was there
- You did so when someone other than an accomplice was there or likely to be there
Like burglary, an aggravated burglary occurs when you entered an occupied building when someone besides an accomplice was there, and one of the following is true:
- You intended to commit a crime
- You carried a deadly weapon or ordnance
- You physically harmed or attempted to harm someone
If you’ve been accused of burglary, you need an experienced burglary defense lawyer. For over a decade, LHA has successfully represented clients on charges ranging from minor misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. Our extensive experience lets us better serve you.
If you have questions or need a burglary attorney in Columbus, call the Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836 for a free and confidential consultation.
Columbus, Ohio Burglary Penalties
Burglary penalties in Ohio range from a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a prison term between nine months and three years, plus fines up to $10,000, all the way to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 11 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.
Different scenarios will affect which level of burglary you’re charged with and which punishments you face if convicted.
If you’re charged with burglary when someone besides an accomplice was present, or you went to someone’s home while someone else was there or likely to be there, it’s considered a second-degree felony, which is punishable by two-to-eight years in prison and a fine between $7,500 and $15,000.
Burglary with just an accomplice is usually a third-degree felony, punishable by a prison term of nine months to three years and a fine between $5,000 and $10,000.
If you trespassed when someone was there or likely to be there, it’s likely a fourth-degree felony and punishable by a prison term of six to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000. A judge may also sentence you to probation or community control instead of prison.
Aggravated Burglary Penalties
When a burglary involves carrying a weapon with the intent to harm someone, it escalates to aggravated burglary. As the most severe burglary charge, it constitutes a first-degree felony and is punishable by three to 11 years and a fine between $10,000 to $20,000.
Other Burglary Consequences
Even after you’ve served your sentence and paid your fine, a burglary conviction will affect your life, including:
- Maintaining employment
- Getting licensed in certain professions
- Difficulty getting affordable housing
- Difficulty and possible denial in immigration and naturalization proceedings
Burglary or Trespassing
An issue that frequently comes up regarding possible burglary charges is whether or not the property in question was an occupied structure. When the property is unoccupied, a burglary charge may not be appropriate.
Ohio law defines an occupied structure as any house, building, outbuilding, watercraft, aircraft, railroad car, truck, trailer, tent or other structure, vehicle, shelter, or even any portion of them that the following applies:
- Someone lives there, even if they’re not present at the time
- It’s used as an overnight accommodation (hotel, bed-and-breakfast, etc.), whether people are present
- At the time, someone’s there or likely to be there
- It’s maintained as a place to live, even if someone doesn’t live there temporarily or nobody’s there at the time
Why Get a Theft Lawyer & How to Defend Against Burglary Charges?
Simply put, if you are convicted of burglary or aggravated burglary, it will be on your criminal background for the rest of your life. No matter the details, you risk being considered a serious and potentially violent criminal offender. Therefore, giving burglary charges the level of importance they deserve is critical.
Starting Your Defense
Our Columbus Criminal Defense team takes a two-pronged approach to all burglary cases. First, you will need a bond. Generally, you will be arrested when charged with burglary. If not, the charge(s) will be filed as a warrant, and you will have to turn yourself in or risk even more criminal charges. We will represent you at your initial bond hearing and look to secure a favorable bond and your release from jail.
Investigating Your Case
After securing your release, we will determine what mistakes the police or detectives made in their investigation, whether the prosecuting witness is fabricating the charges, and what other legal issues can be raised on your behalf.
We do this by requesting discovery from the prosecutor and interviewing witnesses. The discovery will generally consist of police reports, additional investigative notes, pictures, and recorded interviews. As our client, you will receive a copy of everything received from the prosecutor for your review.
Common Defenses Against Burglary
Throughout the investigation process, your attorney will be looking at several defense strategies to get the charges dismissed or to present reasonable doubt.
The arguments against the burglary charges against you could include:
- Alibi — the most common and one of the best defenses against burglary is providing a corroborated alibi to place you away from the scene can help you get charges dismissed
- Improper Questioning — if your arrest wasn’t correctly handled, like if the arresting officer neglected to read you your Miranda Rights, anything you said after your arrest can’t be admitted as evidence in court
- Lack of Intent — If you can prove that you entered the premises without the intent of committing a crime when you trespassed, you have a strong case against burglary charges
- Mistaken Identity — the description of the perpetrator could be vague enough to match several people, which may cast doubt on you being the perpetrator
- Permission to Remove Items — if you believe you had permission to enter the property and take items, you could use this argument to try to dismiss burglary charges
Negotiating to Reduce Burglary Charges
Based on the legal weaknesses in Ohio’s case and any other mitigating factors, LHA will negotiate the best possible plea available with the prosecutor for you to consider in resolving your case. This could lower your charge to a less serious felony or misdemeanor and secure a more favorable punishment.
If your case cannot be resolved satisfactorily with a plea, it would proceed to a motion hearing (a hearing where the judge issues a ruling on an evidentiary issue) or a trial to the judge or jury, depending on the circumstances.
Turn to LHA for the Best Available Defense Against Burglary Charges
For over a decade, the Luftman, Heck & Associates has successfully represented clients in and around Columbus, Ohio, with all manner of criminal offenses and allegations. Let us protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome.
If you’ve been charged with burglary or aggravated burglary, you must know what you’re up against. If you have any questions or are ready to fight for your future, contact LHA at (614) 304-3398 or via email at email@example.com. Initial consults are free and confidential.