There are three degrees of burglary in Colorado: first degree burglary, second degree burglary, and third degree burglary. Any charge of burglary, regardless of degree, is a serious one, and can result in a sentence to the department of corrections (prison). Should the charge of burglary involve any allegation of the use of a weapon such as a knife or firearm, the severity of the charge is significantly elevated.
First degree burglary is either a class 3 or class 2 felony, second degree burglary is either a class 4 or class 3 felony, and third degree burglary is either a class 5 or class 4 felony.
Second degree burglary becomes first degree burglary when the perpetrator increases the risk of deadly or bodily harm to an occupant or other person present by possessing a deadly weapon and knowingly placing or attempting to place that person in fear of serious bodily injury or intending to cause and actually causing serious bodily injury to any person. The defendant is considered to be armed with a deadly weapon if the weapon is easily accessible, and readily available for use. If the defendant steals a deadly weapon and thereby becomes armed with a deadly weapon, the burglary is elevated to first degree – without any requirement that the prosecutor show that the defendant assaulted or menaced anyone with that weapon. The prosecution has a burden to establish that the defendant did not have a lawful right to be inside the building, for the burglary charges to be sustained.
Third-degree burglary involves the breaking and entering not into a building, but into a vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, coin telephone, or other apparatus. “Other apparatus” means something similar to a vault or safe. However, an unsecured and unlocked locker that doesn’t look like it is used for the safekeeping of values would not be such an “other apparatus”. Circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to sustain a conviction for third degree burglary – meaning that police do not necessarily need to see the defendant perform the actual breaking and entering into the apparatus involved.
Why Have I Been Charged with Burglary If I Didn’t Steal Anything?
You may have been charged with a crime of burglary, and be confused as to why those charges have been brought against you. While crimes of burglary often involve allegations of breaking and entering and then a subsequent theft committed inside the premises, one can commit a burglary by entering unlawfully into the premises with an intent to commit some other crime – for example, assault. Intent to trespass alone would be insufficient to convert a charge of trespass to one of burglary.
Our Denver Criminal Attorney Defends All Types of Burglary Charges
Even if an actual burglary is neither committed or attempted, an individual can also be charged with a crime known as possession of burglary tools. That crime is committed when a person possesses any tool adapted, designed, or commonly used for committing or facilitating the commission of a burglary, and the person also had intent or knowledge that another would use the tool in order to commit a burglary. That crime is a class 5 felony.
Burglary and Marijuana
One type of burglary receiving significant media attention in Colorado and throughout the country itself is burglary targeting marijuana companies. Marijuana companies in Colorado currently have a robbery and burglary rate of approximately 50 percent. These cases often are covered by local news media. If you are currently facing burglary charges, contact Denver defense attorney Kimberly Diego today at (720) 257-5346 to discuss your case, and receive a free consultation over the phone, in person, or via email.