December 9, 2023
A Colorado Springs man recently arrived home to find his home being burglarized. When he confronted the burglar, the burglar pulled a firearm on the homeowner and pointed it at him as he ran away.
That wasn’t the end, though.
According to police, the homeowner then got into his car and chased the suspect, and came into contact with two more alleged accomplices. All of the suspects were able to flee the crime scene, so the investigation is ongoing.
This burglary was committed only one day after multiple burglaries were reported near Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. Although the incidents do not appear to be connected, they are part of a recent increase in Colorado Springs burglary – up 22% in the last year.
Burglary is a difficult crime to prosecute, as there are often no witnesses, and unless concrete evidence such as surveillance footage is available, naming a suspect is an imprecise science to say the least.
However, with burglary on the rise, we can expect increased police attention for any property crimes. As police attention turns towards burglary, we’re likely to see more burglary charges, and potentially for more Coloradans to be wrongly accused of this serious offense.
Whatever the specifics of your situation, if you find yourself facing burglary charges, you need to understand the law and the criminal penalties you’re up against. Below, we’re going to cover what the law in Colorado says about burglary.
How Colorado Defines Burglary
Burglary falls under the broad category of property crimes. Although it is traditionally associated with theft, the law technically defines burglary as unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside. The crime may or not be theft, and you need not actually commit a crime once inside so long as there is sufficient evidence of your intent.
Therefore, the two elements of a burglary charge are the knowing unlawful entry into a structure, and criminal intent.
Burglary Sentencing and Penalties in Colorado
Colorado recognized three degrees of burglary. The degree of burglary is determined by the type of structure you entered, what crimes you intended to commit once inside, what crimes actually took place inside, and whether you used a weapon to commit the offense.
First Degree Burglary
Burglary is charged as first-degree burglary if you enter a structure unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime once inside, and do one of the following:
- Assault or menace a victim during the course of the burglary
- Use or threaten to use deadly weapons or explosives during the burglary.
First degree burglary is a Class 3 felony, and is punishable by up to 12 years in prison and fines up to $750,000.
Second Degree Burglary
Second-degree burglary occurs when you enter a structure unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime against another person or property inside of the structure, but do not menace or otherwise antagonize a victim once inside.
Second-degree burglary is a Class 4 felony punishable by imprisonment for up to six years and fines of up to $500,000. It can be upgraded to a Class 3 felony with the criminal penalties described above if the structure was a dwelling, or if you intended to steal controlled substances after gaining entry.
Third Degree Burglary
Third-degree burglary occurs when you intend to commit a crime and break into a certain structure such as a vault, safe, cash register, vending machine, product dispenser, or safe deposit box.
Third-degree burglary is a Class 5 felony, and is punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
If you are facing burglary charges, we advise being proactive by consulting with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.