BURGLARY: WHAT IS IT?

The romanticized image of the burglar is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. It is the stripe shirted, black-masked man with the unshaved face wearing a cap. The burglar sneaks around at night carrying his bag of stolen jewels and other valuable booty. We have even personified the raccoon as a burglar because of the black fur around the eyes, which suggests a mask, but this probably does a disservice to the raccoon.

Real burglars seem to defy this convention for the most part. Burglary occurs anytime during the 24-hour cycle. In Las Vegas, we have had burglars impersonating every role from repairmen to Mormon missionaries. In California, the bikini-clad woman burglar has been seen on home security camera systems.

Burglary Defined

English common law narrowly defined burglary as breaking and entering another person’s premises at night with the intent to commit a felony, usually theft. Nevada’s definition of burglary is a much broader than common law and has been updated to match more modern conditions:

“…a person who, by day or night, enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, airplane, glider, boat or railroad car, with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny, assault or battery on any person or any felony, or to obtain money or property by false pretenses, is guilty of burglary.” NRS 205.060

Burglary under Nevada’s definition is not just applicable to grand or petit larceny, but can apply to entering any premise with the intent to obtain money or property by false pretenses, or to commit an assault or battery on any person. This can include shoplifting at a store or other place of business. It also applies whether a theft or assault has taken place or not, if it can be proved that there was intent to do so when entering the premise.

Penalties

The penalties for burglary are harsh, with first offense carrying up to a 10-year sentence in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Burglary while in possession of a firearm carries a sentence of two to 15 years. Second convictions under this statute disqualify that individual for probation or suspension of sentence. Under Nevada law burglary is considered a class B felony.

We Can Help

If you have been charged with burglary, whether as a single offense or in conjunction with another charge, you should consult with a licensed attorney who is experienced with Nevada law and the courts that will have jurisdiction. The Defenders know that the State’s evidence can be weak or flawed at times and will vigorously represent you with the prosecutor and the courts to obtain a fair outcome. In many cases, charges can be reduced or even dismissed with skilled representation. Call us to schedule a consultation at (702) 333-3333.

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