When a person thinks of the crime of burglary, they may envision a masked criminal breaking into a locked home in the dead of night and stealing something inside. However, under state law, burglary does not necessarily have to involve theft, nor is it limited to a person's home. Thus, it is important to understand the difference between burglary and other crimes.
There are four degrees of burglary under state law. The most basic degree of burglary is burglary in the fourth degree. Each element of that crime is treated as a criminal act. One need not physically break into another's property. For example, if a person simply on another's property with the intent of committing theft, this could still satisfy the crime of fourth-degree burglary. Or, if a person simply breaks into and enters a person's property, without necessarily intending to commit a crime of this could also satisfy the crime of fourth-degree burglary. Burglary in the fourth degree a misdemeanor crime.
Burglary in the third degree is what most people envision when they think of burglary. A person commits third-degree burglary if they break into and enter another person's dwelling with the intention of doing something illegal therein. Second-degree burglary takes place when a person breaks into and enters the storehouse of another, having the intention to commit certain crimes therein, as specified in state statutes. Finally, if a person breaks into and enters the dwelling of another, intending specifically to commit theft or a violent crime therein, this constitutes first-degree burglary. Third-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and first-degree burglary are all felonies.
So, in general, burglary takes place when a person breaks into and enters a home or other building with the intention of committing a crime in that premises. The intended crime can be theft, or it could be another crime, such as arson or assault. Moreover, it does not matter whether the intended crime was actually committed. Simply having the intention to break a crime satisfies that element of burglary. Keep in mind that the information in this post is informational only and cannot replace the advice of an attorney.