December 1, 2022
Burglary is typically depicted as someone sneaking in to someone’s house late at night through a window and tiptoeing around to commit theft. However, while this certainly is a form of burglary, it is not the only way that you can receive a burglary charge in our state.
In fact, Colorado’s legal definition of burglary includes many other types of crimes and types of actions. Case-in-point: burglary doesn’t have to involve someone’s home – or even a building.
All told, there are three types of burglary charges in Colorado, and extra charges may be added depending on the items that you possessed at the time of the burglary and your intentions behind using those objects. Committing any of the following may lead to being hit with burglary charges:
Breaking into a Home or Building
Colorado statutes define burglary as unlawfully entering or breaking the entrance of a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property inside. This type of burglary is a second degree burglary.
Second degree burglary is a class 4 felony in Colorado, and you could face up to six years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. The charge is elevated to a class 3 felony if the intent behind the burglary was to steal controlled substances from a pharmacy or other building where the substances were lawfully stored.
Menacing Someone While Committing a Burglary
The charge will be elevated to a first degree burglary if the alleged burglar commits assault against a person inside the unlawfully entered building. The charge will also be elevated if the person “menaces” someone inside the building.
First degree burglary is a class 3 felony. If convicted, you could face up to 12 years in prison and over $750,000 in fines. The charge is elevated to a class 2 felony if there was intent to steal lawfully stored controlled substances.
Carrying or Threatening to Use a Deadly Weapon While Committing Burglary
When someone is caught committing a burglary, the tools or items they possess at the time could result in a longer sentence. Holding explosives or deadly weapons can elevate charges to first degree burglary – even if they were not used to commit assault or the burglary itself.
Colorado may charge someone with first degree burglary if no weapons were present, but the person threatened to use them against people or property inside the building. Additionally, if the burglary is committed by multiple people and only one person has explosives or deadly weapons, each person may still face first degree burglary charges.
Remaining in a Building after Lawful Entry with Intent to Commit a Crime
Burglary doesn’t always involve breaking or sneaking in to a structure. If you enter lawfully into a building and then remain unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime against another person or property, you can get charged with second degree burglary.
Breaking into “Apparatus or Equipment”
Remember how we mentioned Colorado’s burglary laws aren’t limited to buildings? You can get charged with third degree burglary if you break into “apparatus or equipment,” including:
- Cash registers
- Safety deposit boxes
- Coin vending machines
- Coin boxes
Breaking in to one of the above objects is a class 5 felony in Colorado. If convicted, you could face up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. The charge is elevated to a class 4 felony if the intent behind the burglary is to steal controlled substances inside the object.
Possessing Burglary Tools
“Intent” may be determined by the manner in which you entered the structure or any equipment that was on your person at the time of the supposed burglary. Possessing burglary tools doesn’t just give the prosecutor evidence for conviction, though. If you are caught with equipment that can be used in the commission of a burglary, you can be charged with an additional class 5 felony. Burglary tools may include:
- “…or any other article adapted, designed, or commonly used for committing or facilitating the commission of an offense involving forcible entry into premises or theft by a physical taking.”
Charged with Burglary? Talk to a Colorado Defense Lawyer
Burglary charges don’t have to lead to a conviction. In order to be convicted, a prosecutor must prove that you remained in a building or apparatus unlawfully or that you unlawfully entered and had the intention to commit a crime in that building. If you are charged, you may be able to use any of the following defenses:
- Lawful entry
- False accusation
- Wrong person
- Intoxication or impaired mental state
- Public duty
Different defenses may be relevant depending on the specific situation. Your best chance at walking away from a conviction is to call an experienced Colorado defense attorney. Reach out today to learn more about your defense options.
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.