Breaking and entering is a serious crime in Washington. If you have been charged with breaking and entering, you should look for an experienced Spokane criminal defense attorney who will be dedicated to your case and can fight hard for you. The team at Twyford Law Office is ready to represent you vigorously.
The law defines “breaking into” a property as using force to enter a property without permission. The force used can be very minimal – as little as pushing open a door. But in order to be an unlawful entry, the entry into the property must have been done without authorization.
Washington law defines “entering” in three ways: It can mean breaking into a property, as described above. It can also mean entering a property without using force, such as by walking through an already opened door. Less commonly, it can also mean a person staying in a property longer than he or she is allowed to be there. For example, someone may legally walk into a store when the store is open, but hiding in the store after closing hours would be considered an illegal entry.
Intent to Commit a Crime
The crime of burglary has two parts. First, in order to convict someone of burglary, prosecutors must prove that the person entered a building unlawfully. Second, they must also prove that the person entered the building with the intent to commit a crime inside the building. The intended crime can be anything, it doesn’t necessarily have to be burglary.
The mental state of the person committing the crime is very important. The crime they have committed depends, in part, on their intent at the time. If someone broke into and entered a property but they didn’t intend to commit a crime while inside, then they did not commit burglary. They have still committed a crime, but it will probably be a lesser charge such as trespass.
Degrees of Burglary
In Washington, there are three different charges of burglary:
Burglary in the first degree: Occurs when the person charged has a weapon or assaults someone while in or leaving the building – it is a Class A felony (RCW 9A.52.020)
Residential burglary: Occurs in a building where somebody lives and is a Class B felony
Burglary in the second degree: Occurs in a building that is not a residence and is also a Class B felony
Differences between Burglary & Criminal Trespass
Both burglary and criminal trespass involve illegal entry onto a property, but there are two important differences. The first involves the state of mind of the person who committed the illegal entry. Burglary involves the intent to commit a crime within the property but criminal trespass does not.
The second difference involves the type of property that is illegally entered. In a burglary, an illegal entry must be into a building. In trespass, the illegal entry could be into a building but it could also be onto land.
Contact an Experienced Spokane Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with breaking and entering, you are facing potentially serious consequences. You need and deserve aggressive legal representation from an experienced and skillful Washington criminal defense lawyer who will be dedicated to helping you fight for a positive outcome.
Fill out our contact form or call us at (509) 327-0777 today.