When the state charges a person with a crime, it is important for the defendant to gain a basic understanding of exactly what the charges are and any potential penalties. This is usually first done at an arraignment or bond hearing. Like all other areas of the law, the government must put someone on notice that they are formally being charged with a crime, just as in civil cases there has to be some kind of notice personally served by an agent.

Crimes related to burglary or breaking into structures are some of the most serious in the American criminal justice system.

Police are searching for a burglary suspect

Lansing police had posted notices saying they were looking for a man accused of breaking and entering a building with intent. The suspect was a 38 year old male who also had two outstanding bench warrants for failure to appear in court. The notices also contained a description of the suspect and contact information for local crime stoppers and the Lansing police.

What is breaking and entering with intent?

All crimes related to burglary are defined as unlawfully breaking or entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit one or more other crimes such as theft once inside. For sentencing purposes, most of these crimes are serious felonies that can land someone in jail for up to a decade. This is only a few degrees away from murder charges in terms of how burglary is treated by the criminal justice system.

The Michigan State Penal Code section 750 gives the terminology, definitions, and sentencing guidelines for all crimes related to unlawfully entering or breaking into various structures. The statute gives an exhaustive list of places including railroad cars, tents, hotels, barns, warehouses, and factories. This means that essentially every kind of structure and dwelling is covered under this law, and the type of building or area that was entered illegally cannot be used as a defense.

How can your criminal defense attorney help?

For burglary charges, just like every other crime, the state and prosecutor must prove all elements beyond all reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. If the evidence is missing or weak regarding one of the elements, the case may be dismissed, the charges will be reduced, or the jury instructions tell the members of the panel to find the defendant not guilty.

A common defense in some burglary cases is that the defendant was actually allowed to enter the building based on previous arrangements with the owner or another occupant, therefore this action amounts to a mistake and there was no intent to commit the crime.

There can also be cases of mistaken identity. Crimes such as this are often proven through low quality surveillance footage or the testimony of a witness who briefly saw the suspect in a dark area. If the state cannot conclusively prove through reliable evidence that the person on trial is the one who actually committed the crime, they will likely be acquitted.

The use of alcohol or drugs can also act as somewhat of a defense in burglary cases in the sense that an impaired person might have simply went into the wrong building or not known where they were. This makes the intent element difficult to prove.

Other possible defenses may be available, but this depends on the specific facts surrounding your case.

Talk to a criminal defense attorney in the Lansing area today

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide more specific details about what will happen in your particular case and how they can defend you. The Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer provide unparalleled representation for defendants against a number of different crimes.