What Are My Chances If I Am Charged with Burglary in Colorado?

Categories: Criminal Defense


In Colorado, burglary rates have risen 3.9% from pre-covid 19 pandemic levels. While there is no exact precursor for predicting your chance of a burglary conviction, understanding the law, considering certain factors, and hiring a well-established defense attorney will provide you with the best chance of success at trial. At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., we have 30 years of experience helping our clients fight burglary charges and protect their freedom.

Colorado Burglary Law

Under Colorado law, an individual can be charged with first, second, or third-degree burglary depending on the circumstances involved in the crime. Burglary is defined as knowingly entering another individual’s property with the intent to commit a crime.

In many jurisdictions, an individual can be charged with burglary if they intend to commit a crime even after they enter the property. In Colorado, you must form the requisite intent to commit a crime before entering the building or structure.

To convict a person of burglary, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant entered a building or structure without permission and intended to commit a crime while there.

The prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The defendant knowingly,
  • Enters into a building or structure unlawfully, and
  • With the intent to commit a crime (other than trespass) inside.

Intent to commit a crime is sufficient to satisfy the burden. In other words, you may still face a burglary charge even if you do not follow through and commit a crime.

Defense Strategies

The sooner you meet with a lawyer and begin strategizing your defense, the better. There are several different defenses to burglary charges. However, the particular defense or defenses that may be available to you will be based on the facts of your case. Once your lawyer meets with you and begins to access the evidence against you, they will be able to identify your possible defenses.

Common defenses to burglary include the following:

  • Mistaken identity: Law enforcement or an eyewitness mistakenly identify you as the burglar.
  • Lack of intent: If you unlawfully entered a property but did not intend to commit a crime while there, you did not have the requisite intent for burglary.
  • Violation of constitutional rights: Law enforcement could have violated your 4th amendment (i.e., illegal search or seizure) or 5th amendment rights (i.e., illegal confession).
  • False accusation: Someone has falsely accused you of burglarizing their property, perhaps out of spite or a grudge.
  • Invitee: If you were invited into the residence or onto the property, you were lawfully present. Therefore, even if you intend to commit a crime while there—if you were invited, it is not burglary.
  • The property is yours: You are the legal owner of the building or structure you are accused of burglarizing.
  • Guilty of a lesser offense: If one or more elements of burglary cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, you most likely should not have been charged with burglary but rather a lesser crime such as trespassing or vandalism.

Other possible defenses might include the following:

  • Lack of proof,
  • You were unarmed,
  • Someone else gave you the property, or
  • You were borrowing the property.

Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., to discuss which defenses could apply to you!

Burglary Penalties

The State can charge burglary as either a first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree crime.

Third-Degree Burglary

Third-degree burglary is considered a class 5 felony and, upon conviction, is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, 2 years of parole (mandatory), and up to a $100,000 fine.

Second-Degree Burglary

Second-degree burglary can be either a Class 3 or 4 felony, depending on the specific circumstances involved. If convicted, you face 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.

First-Degree Burglary

Depending on the facts and circumstances, first-degree burglary can be either a Class 2 or 3 felony. This level is considered a crime involving violence and carries a mandatory sentence of 16 to 48 years in prison.

How Can an Attorney Help?

We always recommend hiring a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney when facing burglary charges. A lawyer protects your constitutional rights throughout the process and knows how to achieve the best possible outcome. A defense attorney will assess your case and determine possible defenses, including whether the charges should be dismissed or downgraded.

For instance, second-degree burglary is considered a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, a skilled defense lawyer will argue that the State should reduce the charge to a misdemeanor—which would result in lesser penalties.

Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. will review your case to ensure law enforcement did not violate your rights. The prosecution bears the burden of proof. We use our knowledge and resources to cast doubt in the jurors’ minds so the State cannot make their burden. Do not face burglary charges on your own. Contact us to discuss your options.

Can I Expunge My Burglary Conviction?

In most cases, you can expunge or seal your burglary arrest and conviction. You can typically seal the arrest record immediately if you are arrested but not convicted.

However, if the charge results in a conviction, you must wait for a requisite period. The waiting period depends on the level of the crime charged. Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., to discuss your eligibility and learn more about the expungement process.

Related offenses


You could be charged with theft if you take anything of value belonging to another person without that person’s consent. Depending on the value of the stolen property, charges can vary from a petty offense to a felony.


Robbery is knowingly taking property from another person using force, threats, or intimidation. In Colorado, robbery is a felony offense.

Get Help From Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. Today

If you were recently arrested, you might be thinking, What are my chances if I am charged with burglary in colorado? If so, give us a call. With three decades of experience, we have handled a wide array of burglary cases. Our top priority is protecting your rights and getting you the most favorable outcome possible. Let us use our resources, knowledge, and experience to advocate for you. Your life and reputation depend on it. Contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.