The penalties for a third-degree burglary charge can be severe, as the crime constitutes a class five felony. Third-degree burglary can even carry a class four felony charge if it involves theft or attempted theft of a controlled substance.
Burglary of the third degree encompasses breaking into someone’s property rather than someone’s physical residence or dwelling.
To be charged with burglary of the third degree, one would need to break into any of the following property types with the intent to commit a theft crime:
- Vault or safe
- Cash register or money depository
- Coin vending machine
- Coin box or money box
- Slot machine
- Product dispenser
- Safety deposit box
To build a criminal defense against a third-degree 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 Third-Degree Burglary
In burglary cases, the prosecution must prove three main elements of the offense for a criminal indictment.
- Enter—Unlawful entry into the property (i.e., that you didn’t have authorized access to the physical property you broke into)
- Structure—The person knowingly broke into an unauthorized piece of property or container
- Intent—The person unlawfully broke into the property with the intent to commit a crime
Possible Defenses for Third-Degree Burglary
Therefore, to successfully defend against a third-degree burglary conviction, you need to prove that:
- You were on the property lawfully, or that you did not know you were illegally entering the property
- You broke into a property that is not a type covered under the statute
- You did not intend to commit the crime before entering the property
Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-4-204:
(1) A person commits third-degree burglary if, with intent to commit a crime, he enters or breaks into any vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or other apparatus or equipment whether or not coin operated.
(2) Third degree burglary is a class 5 felony, but it is a class 4 felony if it is a burglary, the objective of which is the theft of a controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102(5), lawfully kept in or upon the property burglarized.