Colorado recognizes burglary as the act of illegally entering a building or a locked container with the intent of committing a crime. It must be your intention to commit an underlying crime, which can either be theft, assault, or a crime against property.
Another possibility is entering a business or building legally but then staying within that building after hours or after closing, which means you are illegally on the premises. This example might be considered trespassing and burglary if the individual intends to commit an underlying crime such as theft. In any event, it would be the prosecution’s job to prove the intent of the individual being accused.
Therefore, in many cases, the defense must cast doubt on any intent to avoid charges of burglary. The penalties for burglaries in Colorado vary according to the degree of burglary, but they are all felonies, meaning if convicted, you can spend more than a year behind bars.
Depending on the type of alleged crime committed, a burglar may be charged with burglary of the 1st degree, 2nd degree, or 3rd degree. When deciding the degree of burglary, much of the process has to do with two key factors; the type of structure involved and whether a weapon was used or present. In addition, the penalty automatically increases when the intended crime is the theft of legally procured controlled substances.
A burglary conviction of any sort can result in lengthy prison sentences as well as heavy fines. It is strongly recommended to consult an experienced Colorado burglary law firm as soon as possible if you have been charged with burglary, as these charges come with severe consequences for your future, and the effects may even last a lifetime.
The severity of burglary charges in Colorado varies according to the degree of crime. In the definition of burglary, intent is the keyword. When someone enters a property (residential, commercial, etc.) unlawfully, it is enough for police to charge you with burglary whether anything was actually taken or not.
First Degree Burglary: (§ 18-4-202)
- Suppose a person knowingly enters a building or occupied structure unlawfully or remains unlawfully after such entry, with the intent to commit a crime other than trespass as defined in this article, against another person or property. In that case, they are committing first-degree burglary. In addition, if the person or another participant, while committing the crime or fleeing from it, assaults or threatens any person, is armed with explosives, uses a deadly weapon, or possesses and threatens to use a deadly weapon.
- Depending on the severity, first-degree burglary can carry up to 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
- A person commits first-degree burglary of controlled substances, a class 2 felony if the property involved is a controlled substance, as defined in subsection (1) of this section, within a pharmacy or other place with lawful possession thereof.
In this case (first-degree), the charge of burglary is the most serious. Once you gain entry to the premises, if you use violence or plan to use violence against another individual, police will charge you with this crime. You will be sentenced to prison in Colorado if you are convicted of this crime.
Burglaries in the first degree are classified as class 3 felonies unless they involve controlled substances. Controlled substance burglaries are typically classified as class 2 felonies.
Second Degree Burglary: The crime of second-degree burglary occurs when an individual intent on committing a crime against another party or property intentionally breaks into, unlawfully enters, or unlawfully remains in a building or occupied structure. (§ 18-4-203)
In addition to second-degree burglary being a class 4 felony, the offense is also a class 3 felony when:
- The burglary involves a dwelling.
- The burglary aims at the theft of a controlled substance lawfully kept in a building or occupied structure, as defined in Section 18-18-102 (5).
- Burglaries are committed for theft of one or more firearms or ammunition.
To recap, the main difference between a second-degree burglary rather than a first-degree burglary is when a person breaks into a building with the intent to commit another crime but does not use weapons and does not commit assault in the process.
Burglaries in the second degree are mainly considered Class 4 felonies; however, when burglary involves the theft of a controlled substance or a personal residence, it may be charged as a Class 3 Felony.
Third Degree Burglary: When an individual enters or breaks into any vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or other apparatus or equipment with the intent to commit a crime. (§ 18-4-204)
You will notice third-degree burglary is generally breaking into anything other than a building or property but rather breaking into locked or personal items.
If the third-degree burglary intended to steal a controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102 (5), that is lawfully kept on or within the burglarized property, then it is a class 4 felony. Otherwise, it is a class 5 felony.
Burglary is a serious legal offense in Colorado, and as discussed above, a felony crime. If you have to appear before a court to defend yourself against a burglary charge, your top priority should be hiring qualified and competent legal representation.
If you have been charged with burglary or are under investigation for any serious crime, a professional criminal defense team that is aggressive, dedicated, and willing to fight for your rights is the key to a successful and favorable outcome.
Contact our offices at The Moorhead Law Group for a free consultation and start working with an experienced Boulder, Colorado burglary defense attorney right away.