The penalties for a burglary charge can be severe, especially if charged with a Class 3 felony. For a second-degree burglary to be charged as a Class 3 felony, it would need to be a burglary of a dwelling, or the objective of the burglary would need to be theft of a controlled substance.
To build a criminal defense against a burglary charge, it is helpful to understand what the jury needs to prove a theft crime happened beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of offense outline the elements a jury needs to prove to indict for a criminal burglary offense.
Elements of Offense in Second-Degree Burglary
In burglary cases, the prosecution must prove three main elements of the offense for a criminal indictment.
- Enter—Unlawful entry
- Structure—The person knowingly broke into an unauthorized building or occupied structure
- Intent—They unlawfully entered with the intent to commit therein a crime
Possible Defenses for Second-Degree Burglary
Therefore, to successfully defend against a second-degree burglary conviction, you must prove you did not enter an occupied structure with intent.
- You entered the building or occupied structure lawfully, with permission or authorization
- You did not know you were illegally entering the property
- You did not intend to commit a crime while on the property
Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-4-203:
(1) A person commits second-degree burglary, if the person knowingly breaks an entrance into, enters unlawfully in, or remains unlawfully after a lawful or unlawful entry in a building or occupied structure with intent to commit therein a crime against another person or property.
(2) Second-degree burglary is a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony if:
- It is a burglary of a dwelling;
- The objective of the burglary is the theft of a controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102 (5), lawfully kept within any building or occupied structure; or
- The objective of the burglary is the theft of one or more firearms or ammunition.