An arrest for burglary can take anyone by surprise in Colorado. It is possible to fight these charges, however, and there are several defenses that might be used.
Elements of burglary
Although burglary is usually thought of as a theft offense, it’s more than that; it’s one of several property crimes. As with all criminal offenses, there are certain elements of a burglary charge. The first is unauthorized breaking in and entering or remaining. The second is that entry is on a property or structure without having legal permission to be there.
The place being entered into does not have to be a home or store; it can be any type of structure such as a tool shed, abandoned building or even a vehicle. However, entering the property or structure doesn’t need to be through force. For example, entering through an open window or unlocked door still constitutes burglary as long as all elements of the crime are present.
The next element of burglary is the intent to commit a crime once inside the property or structure. For example, after a person enters a building through an open window, they see cash sitting on a dresser and pocket it on their way out.
Depending on the circumstances of the crime, burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. For instance, stealing a small amount of cash could be considered a misdemeanor; meanwhile, assaulting a person inside the property could be charged as a felony.
Defenses to burglary
A common defense to burglary is to argue the defendant was legally on the property. Another is that someone with authority invited them, so they couldn’t have been there unlawfully.
Another potential defense to burglary charges is that the person was not on the property to commit a crime. The charges might be dropped if the accused were merely inside the premises but didn’t commit an offense.