Colorado law enforcement agencies take burglary seriously. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, you could face third, second, or first-degree burglary charges, all of which carry significant jail time, fines, and unsavory consequences. If you are charged with burglary, it is not time to panic; it is time to get prepared and informed. Contacting an experienced defense attorney is perhaps the most crucial first step you could take after your arrest. Colorado prosecutors are good at prosecuting burglary crimes. However, at Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., our defense attorney is well-equipped to combat any alleged burglary evidence the state might have against you.
What Is Burglary?
Colorado law defines burglary broadly as knowingly entering another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime therein.
To convict a person of burglary, the prosecutor must satisfy their burden of proof. Specifically, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant entered a building or structure without permission and with the intent to commit a crime inside.
The prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly,
- Entered into a building or structure unlawfully,
- With the intent to commit a crime other than trespass while inside the structure.
Even if you do not follow through and commit the crime, as long as you intend to commit a crime, you could be charged.
Generally, criminal intent is defined as the mental resolve or determination to commit a crime. It is a culpable mental state that is necessary for a criminal conviction. Under Colorado law, burglary intention is relatively broad. The crime you intend to engage in once inside a building does not need to involve theft or stealing. Any crime other than trespass can be a basis for a Colorado burglary charge. The crime you intend to commit does not have to be a felony either; a misdemeanor will suffice as a basis for a burglary charge.
However, in Colorado, you must intend to commit a crime before entering the property. If you do not form the intent to commit a crime until after you are already there, you are not guilty of burglary. This differs from some other states, where you can be convicted of burglary even if you formed the intent to commit a crime after you are already in the building or structure.
An essential element of a burglary is that the entry must be unauthorized. In other words, if someone invites you inside, even if you intend to commit a crime, it does not constitute burglary. For example, if you are invited to a party and go to that party with the intent to commit a crime, you are still technically a guest and cannot be charged with burglary.
What Evidence Is Needed to Prove Burglary in Colorado?
There are many ways in which a prosecutor might attempt to prove burglary. It is often more complex than TV or movies portray it to be. Rarely is there a “smoking gun” pointing to the defendant’s guilt. However, prosecutors rely on certain forms of evidence, often more than one, to prove their case.
Sometimes law enforcement gets lucky, and a defendant will confess to the crime. If you admit to committing a burglary during arrest or during a police interview, the prosecutor will use that statement against you at trial. The risk of confessing is why it is essential to remain silent and not speak with the police without a lawyer present. A lawyer can keep you from inadvertently admitting to elements of the crime.
If you have already made statements, an experienced defense lawyer will look closely at the supposed confession to ensure the defendant was adequately Mirandized. If the police violated your rights, defense counsel would make a motion to exclude any harmful statements you made.
Prosecutors rely on circumstantial evidence in many criminal trials, including burglary cases. Depending on the existence of other evidence, a prosecutor could rely heavily or minimally on circumstantial evidence to prove their case.
Circumstantial evidence is defined as indirect evidence that does not, on its face, prove a fact in issue—but gives rise to a logical inference that the fact exists. Usually, one piece of circumstantial evidence alone is not enough to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, many bits of circumstantial evidence could result in a strong case.
Regardless of what type of evidence the prosecutor uses, a knowledgeable defense lawyer will use their experience to poke holes in the prosecutor’s theory.
Tools of the Crime
If you are found with specific tools on you at the time of capture or arrest, the prosecuting attorney will allege those tools are evidence that you committed a crime. Burglary tools may include a screwdriver, a crowbar, or wire cutters.
Prior Burglary Convictions
Under limited circumstances, a prosecutor might attempt to use any prior burglary convictions to prove you are responsible for the current offense. A sharp defense lawyer will move to exclude this information from being introduced at trial.
Possible Defenses to Burglary Charges
There are many possible defenses to combat a burglary charge; it all depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Common examples include the following:
- Mistaken identity;
- Lack of intent;
- Violation of constitutional rights (i.e., illegal search or seizure, illegal confession);
- False accusation;
- You were a guest;
- The property belongs to you; or
- A lesser offense is more appropriate for the crime.
A knowledgeable and resourceful criminal attorney will help you establish your best defense.
Other Related Offenses
Perhaps you face a burglary charge, but another lesser offense is more appropriate. Our skilled defense lawyer will assess your case and advocate for any appropriate downgrade or favorable plea agreement. Other related crimes could include the following:
- Misdemeanor theft,
- Trespass, and
No matter what charge you face, it is imperative to hire an experienced defense lawyer.
Get Help From Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. Today
At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., we have more than 30 years of experience protecting our client’s rights. We are well-versed in the law, experienced in litigation, and familiar with the local justice system. Our job is to ensure all of our clients have access to the full protections afforded under the U.S. Constitution and Colorado law. At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., it is our priority to always be available to our clients. Contact us at any time convenient to you to schedule an initial consultation: it’s free, and there is no obligation!