A burglary in Colorado Springs led to the arrest of six minors earlier this month.
Members of the Colorado Springs Police Department arrived to the Colorado Crossings Property at 1:30 A.M. on a Sunday morning and caught one 18-year-old and six minors as they were in the process of disassembling and removing stereo equipment. Even though the property has been vacated, there is 24-hour security, and witnesses discovered and called in the burglary. All seven suspects were arrested.
The sole adult in the burglary will be tried as an adult, but there are no reports yet as to how the minors involved will be tried and the sentences they may face.
People often use the terms burglary, theft, and robbery interchangeably, but under Colorado law they are all actually different charges. Burglary alone has multiple classifications, and is punishable by jail time and heavy fines.
Burglary, as its most basic level, is defined as the unlawful entry of a building or container with the intention to commit a crime. There are four types of burglary charges in Colorado, all with different associated felony sentences:
Third Degree Burglary – this is the least serious burglary charge. It involves breaking into a container with the intention to commit a crime. Examples of “containers” include:
- Cash registers
- Safety deposit boxes
- Vending machines
Third degree burglary is a class 5 felony in our state. Penalties for a third degree burglary conviction include one to three years in jail and/or a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000.
Second Degree Burglary – when you break into a building with the intention to commit a crime, you will be charged with second degree burglary. Second degree burglary is considered a class 4 felony, with penalties of 2-6 years in prison and/or fines of between $2,000 and $500,000.
Home Invasion Burglary – This is a type of second degree burglary that is committed in a dwelling or residence (a building where people live.) Home invasion burglary is considered more serious than second degree burglary. It is charged as a class 3 felony, with penalties of 4-12 years in prison and/or fines of between $3,000 and $750,000.
First Degree Burglary – This is the most serious type of burglary you can commit. In Colorado, first degree burglary is also classified as a “crime of violence.” A burglary is considered first degree burglary if the offender:
- Assaults anyone
- Threatens anyone with bodily harm or the use of a weapon
- Uses or is armed with a weapon
- Is armed with an explosive
First degree burglary is considered a class 3 felony, with penalties of 4-12 years in prison and fines of between $3,000 and $750,000.
You do not have to be armed with a firearm or explosive to face additional burglary-related charges. Separate charges can be filed for the “Possession of Burglary Tools” (Colorado 4-2:08). Burglary tools are defined as any instrument, tool, or article that could be used to commit crimes. Common examples of burglary tools include:
- Lock picks
- Master keys
- Bolt cutters
Defenses against Burglary Charges and Trespassing
There is more than one way to be charged for burglary, and you could be facing multiple counts and severe penalties. Using the right defense strategy can help you reduce your sentence, have the charges dropped, or prove your innocence.
Let’s go back to the basic definition of burglary: entering a building with the intention to commit a crime. One of the most common defense strategies used for burglary offenses is proving that you did not intend to commit a crime when you entered the building, residence, or container in question.
Unlawfully entering a building without the intention to commit a crime can be charged as trespassing. While no criminal charge or conviction will help your public record, trespassing will cut your sentence and charge down to a misdemeanor offense.
If the prosecution cannot present enough evidence to prove that you unlawfully entered a building to commit a crime, the charges should be reduced. You are innocent until proven guilty.
The same strategy applies to the possession of burglary tools. If the prosecution cannot prove that the articles or tools you possessed at the time of the offense could be used for criminal activity, those charges against you may be dropped.
If you have been charged with any degree of burglary, it is important to know that you can prove your innocence and potentially avoid the jail time and monetary penalties you face. But in order to do so, you need an experienced professional on your side.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.