Burglary may rank as one of the more confusing criminal charges a defendant might face. While the law explicitly defines burglary under the Iowa criminal code, many defendants confuse burglary with other, often related crimes. Anyone charged with burglary would likely find value in understanding the elements of this crime.
Defining burglary under the law
Although many assume a burglar is a thief, burglary is a crime separate from theft. Someone may face burglary charges even if they didn’t steal anything since burglary refers to unlawful entry while intending to commit a crime.
Burglary and theft charges commonly go together because someone may illegally enter a home, business, fenced-off parking lot, or another structure intending to steal. However, burglary applies to any unlawful entry with the intention to commit any crime, including assault, arson, battery, vandalism, and others.
Another mistaken belief about burglary involves the notion that force is necessary. Entering through an open window or unlocked door without permission would likely constitute an unauthorized entry.
Defending burglary charges
Anyone charged with burglary is entitled to criminal defense representation as with all crimes. The threshold for guilt remains beyond a reasonable doubt. When charged with burglary, questions might arise about whether the defendant truly entered a structure without permission and intended to commit a crime. If the prosecutor cannot prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused may end up acquitted.
There are several ways a defense could cast doubt on the burglary charges. Conflicting witness testimony and a lack of evidence reflect two such ways.
Defendants concerned about a conviction on burglary and additional charges might seek a plea deal. The deal could lead to lesser charges or sentencing, which may be preferable depending on the case’s facts.