Burglary

Burglary is one of the oldest criminal laws on the books. It goes back to the old pseudo-misogynistic idea that “a man’s home is his castle,” and so anyone who dares breach the sanctity of a home must pay a stiff price. Sometimes in Ohio we use different formal or informal names, like home invasion or breaking and entering, but the elements are largely the same. The need for an aggressive defense hasn’t changed either. No one will put you in the rack, but a burglary conviction often means a lengthy possible prison sentence and a stiff fine.  A seasoned attorney can use the law and the facts to either get the charges reduced or get the case thrown out.

Anatomy of a Burglary

Section 2911.12 is one of the broader burglary laws in the country, because both elements go well beyond the common law standards.

  • Unlawful Entry: Many people think that burglary requires some sort of forced entry, like breaking a window, picking a lock, or busting down a door. In some jurisdictions, that is the law. But Ohio uses the word “trespass.” Walking through an unlocked door without announcing your presence and without an invitation is a trespass. Furthermore, walking across the property line or reaching into a pickup truck’s bed can be considered a trespass.
  • Intent to Commit a Crime: At common law, you had to have the intent to commit a felony to be convicted of burglary. But in present-day Ohio, any crime – including something like loitering – is sufficient, and many people find this out the hard way.

Additionally, it’s the intent that counts. If you sneak into your neighbor’s house to borrow his hedge clippers without asking but then leave without them, you can still be convicted of burglary because you had the intent to commit a crime when you unlawfully entered.

If the building is unoccupied (e.g. an unattached garage or a separate storage shed), the maximum penalty is not quite as high. Typically, however, burglary is a second degree felony.

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Burglary-Related Offenses in Columbus

Prosecutors will upgrade the charges to aggravated burglary if you had a weapon when you entered, and bear in mind that under Ohio law, almost any artificial object is classified as a weapon, at least in some cases. If you had the intent to hurt someone, or actually hurt someone, that’s also aggravated burglary.

Burglary of a business is technically called breaking and entering. If the property is vacant, like an abandoned warehouse, the penalty is lower. If you unlawfully enter without the intent to commit a crime, that’s either trespass or aggravated trespass.

Burglary Defenses

Borrowing property is always in a grey area, because of the way the law defines “larceny.” There’s a difference between taking your roommate’s car to the store and back, and taking your roommate’s car to Mexico and back.

Permission to take property and permission to enter the premises are rather subjective as well. If your friend says to “come over later and get it,” her words could be reasonably interpreted many different ways. Similarly, if an ex-spouse took property that the divorce decree awarded to you, it may or may not be burglary if you go and take it back.

Burglary Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

At Halabi Law, LLC, we use proven methods to deal with burglary cases. And, since I routinely handle matters in Franklin County and nearby jurisdictions, I know all the procedural and evidentiary rules, including the ones that are unwritten. Especially in burglary cases, having an experienced attorney can make a tremendous difference in the final result. Call me today and we’ll get started on your defense.