I’ve Been Accused of Burglary. What Does That Mean?

If you have been accused of burglary in Minnesota, that likely means you are facing a felony charge. At this level, a conviction could result in a prison term of more than one year and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

This blog will explore Minnesota’s burglary law to give you a better understanding of what the accusations against you mean and the potential penalties you can face.

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What Is Burglary in Minnesota?

Section 609.582 of the Minnesota Statutes defines burglary. Generally, the offense involves entering a building without consent with the intent to commit a crime or theft or actually committing a crime or theft while there.

A building can include various structures, such as:

  • Dwelling,
  • Public building,
  • Factory,
  • Shop,
  • Apartment,
  • House,
  • Trailer,
  • Warehouse,
  • Ship, or
  • Railroad car

Further, burglary is separated into three categories, which depend on the conduct involved in the offense. For instance, you might have been charged with burglary involving forcible entry. What this means is that the building you entered was locked, but you used some device to unlawfully enter. You might also have been charged with burglary if you attempted forcible entry. Thus, even though you did not complete the offense, trying to gain unlawful access with the intent to commit a crime is still a violation of the law.

Note that forcible entry is not required for your act to be considered burglary. The second category of burglary involves unlawful entry, which is distinct from forcible entry in that the structure you entered was not locked. In other words, you gained access to the building by going through an unlocked window or door when you did not have lawful access to the area.

What Are the Degrees of Burglary in MN?

Minnesota law defines four degrees of burglary. Each is distinguished by the place where the crime occurred and what the individual’s intent was

Let’s discuss each degree in more detail:

  • First-degree burglary: You might have been accused of first-degree burglary if you entered a dwelling and someone else was there or showed up while you were committing the offense, you had a dangerous weapon, or you committed assault against any of the occupants.
  • Second-degree burglary: There are several ways you might have been charged with second-degree burglary. First, you might have been accused of entering the part of a dwelling that contains banking or securities business or a pharmacy or place where controlled substances are stored. You might also have been accused if you had with you an object that would allow you to access money or property. Lastly, you might have been charged with second-degree burglary if you entered any of the following structures:
    • Government building
    • Religious establishment
    • Historic property
    • School building
  • Third-degree burglary: Criminal charges for third-degree burglary might have been levied if reasonable suspicion existed to believe that you unlawfully entered the structure with the intent to commit a felony or gross misdemeanor or you actually committed either.
  • Fourth-degree burglary: You might be facing fourth-degree burglary charges if you entered a building without consent and you attempted to commit or committed a misdemeanor except for theft.

Is Burglary a Violent Crime?

As noted earlier, burglary can involve the use of force to enter a structure. Because of this element, many people might associate it with a crime of violence. However, remember that force is not necessary for a person to have violated the law. Thus, it is not a violent crime. Rather, it is classified as a property crime.

The difference between violent and property crimes is who the offense is committed against. Violent crimes involve using or attempting to use force upon another person. Robbery, which is often associated with burglary, is considered a violent crime because it is committed when someone forcibly takes another’s property by using violence or making the person fear that they are in imminent danger of harm. In contrast, a property crime involves the taking or damaging of another person’s property and no force or threat of force is used against the alleged victim.

Is Burglary a Felony in MN?

In Minnesota, many crimes are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. Under Minnesota Statutes § 609.02, a felony is a crime punishable by more than one year in prison. In contrast, a misdemeanor is an offense with a term of incarceration of not more than 90 days (anything not classified as a misdemeanor or a felony is a gross misdemeanor).

Given these definitions, except for one instance, burglary is a felony in Minnesota:

  • First-degree burglary is punishable by:
    • Up to 20 years of imprisonment and/or
    • Up to $35,000 in fines
  • Second-degree burglary is punishable by:
    • Up to 10 years of imprisonment and/or
    • Up to $20,000 in fines
  • Third-degree burglary is punishable by:
    • Up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Fourth-degree burglary is punishable by:
    • Not more than 1 year of incarceration and/or
    • Up to $3,000 in fines

Contact an Attorney Today

At Brockton D. Hunter P.A., we understand how overwhelming it can be to be accused of burglary in Minneapolis. We are here to help fight your charge. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to seek a favorable outcome, such as dropped charges, an acquittal, or reduced sentences.

To discuss defenses that may be raised in your case, contact us at (612) 979-1112">(612) 979-1112 today.