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What, Exactly, Is Burglary?

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What, Exactly, Is Burglary?


When we think of burglars, we might imagine a cartoon image we saw as children. A man in a striped shirt, beret, and domino mask sneaks into a home, stuffing valuables into a bag.

The cultural impact of this image cannot be understated. It directly connects “burglary” to “theft,” and “burglars” are always “thieves.” Legally, this assumption is completely false. Burglary does not necessarily involve theft.

In this article, we will define burglary and offer defenses against this criminal accusation.

Burglary Involves Intent

First off, let’s clear up some misconceptions. Burglary is not simply the act of entering a place where you do not belong. Doing that is called trespassing.

Re-addressing the issue we brought up above, theft and burglary are not synonymous. Theft, legally called “larceny” can happen directly, such as in a mugging or a robbery. It can happen quietly and without anyone noticing, which is the case with embezzlement. When someone steals something, they may not be committing “burglary” at all.

By legal standards, burglary is illegally entering a location with the intent to commit a crime. That secondary crime could be anything from vandalism to murder. It also doesn’t matter if someone successfully commits that second crime. The intent alone is enough to elevate a trespassing charge to a burglary charge.

Burglary Penalties in Nevada

The crime is a Category B felony in the state. Offenders could face between 1 and 10 years of incarceration and fines up to $10,000.

Defenses Against a Burglary Allegation

As you can see, the state is harsh on alleged burglars. You deserve a good defense if you’ve been accused of this crime. Here are some strategies you can discuss with your attorney.

Poor State of Mind

This defense does not deny that you committed burglary. Instead, it claims that you did so unwittingly.

The world is more sensitive to mental illnesses these days, both chronic and acute. In the middle of a breakdown, someone could commit a crime that they wouldn’t have while clear-headed. This situation may apply to your burglary, and it may be simple to find evidence of your episode through medical records.

Even claiming that you were severely inebriated could be an effective defense against burglary.

Simple Trespassing

Remember, a burglary charge requires the intent to commit another crime while on the premises. If you were not on the property to engage in another criminal act, you can argue your charge down to simple trespassing.


People are sometimes forced to commit a crime by another, more dangerous person. This is called “acting under duress.” This claim admits that you committed the crime, but you did so because you or your family had been threatened.

Weak Evidence

In any criminal accusation, it’s important to scrutinize the evidence the state has against you. Burglary can be easy to debunk.

For instance, there may be no witnesses to the event. Even if witnesses do exist, you can question how reliable they are. Were they drunk at the time? How far away were they? Was it too dark to reliably ID the burglar?

Security cams can also be unreliable. They are often placed at odd angles, making it easy to mistake one person for another. Furthermore, the footage itself can be a low-resolution, black-and-white image. This can make it easier to question the identity of the person caught on camera.

Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover is here to defend you against a burglary accusation. If you need help, call our office today at (775) 502-1575 or set up time with us online.

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