Tempe prosecutors take burglary charges seriously. You could be charged with felony burglary if you are caught going on to someone else’s property and the government believes you did not have permission to do so. Your freedom is at stake when you’re charged with a crime; you shouldn’t take the situation lightly or assume that you’ll be acquitted because you didn’t do it or had a valid reason for being there. Experienced Tempe criminal defense attorney James E. Novak may be able to look at the specific circumstances under which you were charged and build a strong burglary defense on your behalf.Burglary Defenses
A prosecutor can establish burglary beyond a reasonable doubt if he or she shows: (1) there was an unauthorized breaking and entry, (2) into an occupied structure or building, and (3) you intended to perpetrate a crime within it. If a prosecutor cannot prove one or more of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, he will not be able to secure a conviction.
There are three different types of burglary: burglary in the first degree, burglary in the second degree, and burglary in the third degree. Burglary in the first degree would be charged, for instance, if you possessed a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Burglary in the second degree happens if you came into a residential structure without a deadly weapon. Burglary in the third degree happens if you came into a fenced yard or came into a car by manipulating the key.Reasonable Doubt
In order to obtain a conviction from the jury, a prosecutor must establish the burglary charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Our lawyers may be able to defeat a charge by generating doubt in the minds of jurors as to whether the State’s evidence truly demonstrates the perpetration of the burglary. It may be appropriate to show there is insufficient evidence as to one or more elements. Or we might be able to raise doubts about the scientific reliability of a forensic technique such as fingerprinting. We may be able to show there is a break in the chain of custody or other procedural impropriety that makes the evidence against you unreliable. It may be possible to establish innocence by showing you have an alibi.
We might be able to make a solid argument that you did not have the requisite mental state. For instance, if you came onto property because you believed you had authorization from the property’s owner, and there are witnesses to the authorization, the prosecutor wouldn’t be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the requisite mental state to commit the crime of burglary. Similarly, if you received consent at one point and it was not revoked, our lawyers may be able to argue that there was no unauthorized breaking and entering. Even if you were in error about whether you had consent, if your belief was reasonable, we may be able to build a defense from that.
Although rare, there are occasions in which substantive defenses are appropriate based on the circumstances. For instance, it can be difficult to establish entrapment in connection with burglary, but with the right set of circumstances, it could be appropriate.Plea Negotiations
A complete defense may not be possible, but even so, it is critical to retain a seasoned lawyer who has a strong reputation with prosecutors and the court. Negotiating a plea in which you agree to plead guilty to a charge that carries a lighter sentence may be the soundest strategy. For instance, it may be the case that the government can prove that there was unauthorized breaking and entering but it doesn’t have airtight evidence that you had a deadly weapon at the time. In that case, it could be appropriate to plead guilty to burglary in the second degree, rather than go to trial on burglary in the first degree.Hire an Aggressive Burglary Defense Lawyer
The particular circumstances will dictate what defenses are likely to be successful. When you hire a Tempe criminal defense attorney, you give yourself the best possible chance of defeating the charges, or at least getting them reduced. James E. Novak may be able to represent you. He represents those accused in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.