Unlawfully entering or remaining in a building or dwelling with the intention of committing a crime constitutes burglary. Burglary is most often associated with theft, but entering or remaining in a building with the intent to commit another crime, such as sexual assault or rape, may also be considered burglary. It is also often referred to as "breaking and entering."

While particular penalties and classifications of burglary vary from state to state, this is a serious charge in all states and may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending upon the circumstances. Generally, the penalties will be greater if the defendant is accused of breaking into a person's home as opposed to an unoccupied building. Carrying or using a weapon may also result in enhanced penalties, as may prior convictions for burglary or other theft crimes. In some states, the time of day may also influence the severity of burglary charges that a defendant faces. A defendant convicted of burglary may expect to face incarceration, whether in county jail or state prison, and fines. He or she may also face limited employment and educational opportunities from having a criminal conviction on his or her record.

Understanding "Breaking and Entering" Charges

Even if an individual did not actually commit a crime upon entering a building, he or she may be charged with burglary. It is merely the intention of committing a crime which can result in burglary charges being filed in the first place. For instance, if Joe breaks into a home with the intention of stealing a TV, but is scared away by an alarm system before he can take anything, he may still face burglary charges.

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