In Atlanta, the crime of a home invasion burglary is complete as soon as the defendant enters, even if the intended theft or felony never occurs. For example, suppose a burglar breaks a window and enters a home, intending to steal a television. Once inside, the burglar is scared off after the alarm sounds. The defendant can still be convicted of burglary and attempted theft. Going into someone else’s home without permission is a crime. A home invasion is a type of burglary or, sometimes, a trespass.
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer Bryan Howard is a former prosecutor who understand the severity of this charge. Atlanta Home Invasion is not a charge you want to go “at it alone”.
Georgia legislators impose harsh punishment on criminals who invade other people’s homes, as opposed to other buildings.
In order to convict a person of burglary, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant entered the building with the intent to commit a felony (a crime punishable by a prison sentence) or theft. Usually, the prosecutor can rely on the circumstances surrounding the offense to show intent and does not have to prove exactly what the defendant was thinking. For example, if you come home and find a person you do not know rifling through your possessions, with a duffle bag full of your electronics and jewelry and no good explanation for why he is there, the prosecutor does not have to show the defendant’s actual thoughts. When the circumstances convince a judge or jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person entered in order to commit a crime, they can find the defendant guilty.
However, a person who goes into a building and, after getting inside, develops the intent to commit a crime has not committed burglary. For example, a person who goes to a home for a party and then steals another guest’s phone can be convicted of theft, but not burglary, unless there is some evidence that that the defendant had the intent to steal when he or she arrived. Likewise, a person who breaks into a friend’s home in a drunken stupor, intending to curl up and go to sleep on the sofa, but then wakes up and assaults the friend, could be charged with assault, but not burglary.
The offense of burglary is described in Ga. Code Ann. § 16-7-1 and it defined when a person “enters or remains” in a dwelling, structure, vehicle, or watercraft without permission with the intent of committing a felony. Notice that theft is not mentioned here—it is possible to be charged with burglary if you are caught trespassing and authorities only believe that you intend to perpetrate a theft or another crime.
Penalties for burglary are as follows:
- First offense: minimum prison sentence of one year
- Second offense: minimum prison sentence of two years
- Third offense: minimum prison sentence of five years
The maximum sentence for each of these charges is 20 years. There can also be aggravating factors that can affect your sentence, such as the type of structure involved and any property damage.
If you or someone you know has been arrested in Atlanta on a Burglary Charge, contact the Howard Law Group ASAP so we can help defend your case.