Burglary is often a non-violent crime, so many people throughout the United States, Lincoln included, think its penalties should match those of other theft crimes. However, because it involves unauthorized entry into spaces such as a home that may be considered private, it is considered a felony and carries harsh penalties.
It is important for anyone facing burglary charges to understand the ramifications and his/her best options for fighting the charges. A hard-working Lincoln burglary lawyer from Berry Law can help collect and preserve valuable evidence to build a strong defense. If you choose to retain one, a determined theft attorney can also provide representation and guidance through all stages of the proceedings to help you defend your constitutional rights and reach a positive resolution to your case.
How State Law Views Burglary
Burglary is defined in Nebraska Revised Statutes §28-507 as breaking and entering into another person’s real property “willfully, maliciously and forcibly” with the intent to either steal something of value or commit a felony. So, for someone to be convicted of burglary, the prosecution must prove several elements of the offense’s legal definition:
- The actions were committed willfully, maliciously and forcibly
- The actions constituted breaking and entering
- The actions were committed with the intent to steal property or with the intent to commit a felony
Neither the statute itself nor the various cases interpreting the statute require the property to be taken or a felony to be committed for a burglary charge to be valid. Breaking and entering with intent is sufficient for a violation of the burglary statute to stand up in court. For more information about burglary laws, reach out to a knowledgeable lawyer.
Breaking and Entering
While the concept of forcibly breaking into property conjures up images of smashing a window to enter a darkened home, state courts have traditionally considered much less violent actions to satisfy this element. “Breaking” generally requires the use of force and the removal of an obstacle to entry, but the force may be extremely slight, and the obstacle may be easily moved. An action as simple as opening a closed screen door could be considered “breaking” in this context.
Proving criminal intent can be a complicated endeavor in certain burglary cases. Evidence is crucial in proving the state of mind of the person taking action, so it is helpful to collect and preserve evidence for defensive purposes as soon as possible. As time passes, witnesses may be more difficult to locate, or their memories less reliable.
It is not necessary for the government to have direct evidence of the intent to steal or commit a felony—circumstantial evidence may be enough if it demonstrates guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if the defendant allegedly intended to commit a felony instead of steal property, the prosecution must specify the felony before charges may result in a conviction.
Penalties for Burglary
N.R.S. §28-507 specifies that burglary should be treated as a Class IIA felony, which is one of the most serious categories of felony offenses. Those convicted of such a crime may face up to 20 years in prison.
In addition, a conviction creates a criminal record with lifelong consequences. Basic civil rights could be lost, and it may become extremely difficult to obtain employment, housing, loans, and other needs. This is why it essential for defendants to reach out to a dedicated Lincoln burglary lawyer as soon as possible.
Work with an Experienced Lincoln Burglary Attorney Today
With a crime as serious as burglary, it may be in your best interest to secure the right legal representation as soon as possible to avoid making statements or taking actions that could compromise your case. The sooner you begin working with a Lincoln burglary lawyer, the sooner your attorney can start building the right defense for your case. To schedule a consultation and learn about the options available, contact Berry Law today.