Maryland Burglary Lawyer
Burglary Charges Generally
Burglary is a serious criminal offense in the state of Maryland, and if you have been charged with this crime, it is essential that you seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
In Maryland, burglary is categorized into four degrees, each carrying different penalties and consequences. Whether you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges, it is crucial to understand the nature of the case and the legal options available to you.
All burglaries share a common thread - an unpermitted breaking and entering into a place. The differences in degrees and penalties come with where a person is breaking into - and what their intention is inside. Burglary is different than Robbery; however, they both involve a theft. Robbery has enhancements for being armed during a robbery, whereas burglary does not.
Understanding the distinctions between the various degrees of burglary and the specific charges you are facing can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. A knowledgeable Maryland burglary lawyer will be able to guide you through the complexities of criminal law and provide the necessary advice and representation in court.
What are some Common Defenses to Burglary in Maryland?
There are several common defenses that can be employed by a criminal defense lawyer when representing clients facing burglary charges. These defenses can vary depending on the specifics of the case, but some common strategies include:
Mistake of Fact
One possible defense is to argue that the defendant was mistaken about the facts of the case. For example, they may have believed they had permission to enter the property or that they were in their own home.
Often burglary cases involve witness identification either in person - or through video. These identifications can be effected by biases and other factors. Identifications in burglary cases are often made by Police Officers who are using old motor vehicle administration photos. Identification is a frequent common defense to the crime of burglary.
Duress or Necessity
Another defense that can be used in a burglary case is claiming that the defendant was acting under duress or necessity. This means that they were forced to commit the crime due to threats or other extraordinary circumstances. Imagine a scenario where a natural disaster casued a person to need to take shelter.
Lack of a "Breaking"
One of the common elements in all burglary charges is a "breaking and entering". This legal term means more than it sounds like, which an attorney can explain during a free consultation
Burglary First Degree
In Maryland, first-degree burglary is considered the most serious of the four degrees of burglary. This offense occurs when an individual enters a dwelling with the intent to commit theft. It is a felony offense, carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
A skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer will be able to assess the evidence against you and determine the best course of action in defending against first-degree burglary charges. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser charge or even have the charges dismissed altogether.
Home Invasion vs Burglary
If the State's case involves a breaking and entering into a dwelling with an intent to commit a crime of violence, then the State can prove a home invasion, which is an even more serious felony carrying a maximum penalty of twenty five years in prison. This offense should not be confused with robbery, which is a separate criminal charge with some common elements.
Burglary Second Degree
Second-degree burglary in Maryland involves the breaking and entering of a storehouse with the intent to commit theft, a crime of violence, or arson. This offense is also classified as a felony and carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
If you are facing second-degree burglary charges, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable Maryland criminal attorney. They can help you understand the nature of the charges, evaluate the evidence, and develop an effective defense strategy to protect your rights.
Burglary Third Degree
Third-degree burglary is a felony offense in Maryland, which occurs when an individual breaks and enters another person's property with the intent to commit a crime. This charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The difference between 1st and 3rd degree burglary is what the person intends to do inside the dwelling after breaking in.
Burglary Fourth Degree
Burglary in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor offense in Maryland, and it involves the breaking and entering ointo any dwelling, storehouse, or property without the consent of the owner. Penalties for this offense include a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
While the penalties for fourth-degree burglary may be less severe than those for felony burglary offenses, it is still important to retain the services of a skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Felony Burglary vs Misdemeanor
Understanding the difference between felony and misdemeanor burglary charges in Maryland is crucial to your case. As previously mentioned, first, second, and third-degree burglary are classified as felonies, while fourth-degree burglary is considered a misdemeanor. This means that Fourth degree burglary can have a trial in District Court, whereas the higher degrees of burglary have to have a jury trial in Circuit Court.
The classification of the offense can significantly impact the severity of the penalties, as well as the long-term consequences on your criminal record.
Felony convictions often carry harsher penalties, such as longer prison sentences and larger fines. Additionally, having a felony on your record can make it more difficult to find employment, secure housing, and may result in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote or own a firearm in certain states.
Finding a Lawyer in Maryland
When facing burglary charges, it is essential to find the best criminal defense lawyer who specializes in Maryland criminal law. An experienced and skilled attorney will be familiar with the nuances of the state's laws and the strategies that are most likely to be successful in defending against burglary charges.
To find the right lawyer, consider the following:
- Look for an attorney with a proven track record of success in handling burglary cases.
- Seek out recommendations from friends, family, or online reviews.
- Schedule a consultation to discuss your case and evaluate your comfort level with the attorney.
An important factor to consider when selecting a Maryland burglary lawyer is their trial experience. While many cases can be resolved through negotiations or plea bargains, some may ultimately require a trial. In such situations, having an attorney with extensive trial experience can be invaluable.
There are two types of trials in Maryland: jury trials and bench trials. A jury trial involves a group of peers who will decide the outcome of the case, while a bench trial is decided by a judge. Your attorney should be well-versed in both types of trials and capable of advocating for your best interests in either scenario.
The Importance of a Strong Defense Strategy
Developing a strong defense strategy is crucial when facing burglary charges in Maryland. A comprehensive strategy can help increase the chances of a favorable outcome, such as having the charges reduced, dismissed, or winning at trial. There are several key aspects to consider when building a defense strategy:
Evaluating the Evidence:
A skilled Maryland burglary lawyer will carefully review all the evidence against you, including police reports, witness statements, and any physical evidence. They will look for inconsistencies, weaknesses, and potential violations of your constitutional rights that could be used to challenge the admissibility of the evidence in court.
Investigating the Case:
Thorough investigation is essential in preparing a strong defense. Your attorney may conduct their own investigation to gather additional evidence, such as surveillance footage, alibi witnesses, or expert testimony that could help support your case.
Presenting a Compelling Narrative:
A successful defense often involves presenting a persuasive narrative that casts doubt on the prosecution's case. Your attorney will work with you to develop a clear and compelling story that explains your actions and highlights any mitigating factors that may be relevant to your case.
Negotiating with the Prosecution:
In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor. Your attorney will leverage their knowledge of the law and the specifics of your case to advocate for the best possible deal on your behalf.
The Impact of a Burglary Conviction on Your Future
The consequences of a burglary conviction in Maryland can extend far beyond the immediate penalties of prison time, fines, and probation. A burglary conviction can have long-lasting and far-reaching effects on your personal and professional life, including:
A burglary conviction will result in a permanent criminal record, which can be seen by potential employers, landlords, and others who conduct background checks.
Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with criminal records, especially for positions of trust or responsibility. A burglary conviction may make it more difficult to find and maintain employment.
Landlords may be reluctant to rent to individuals with criminal records, particularly for property-related offenses like burglary. This can make finding suitable housing more challenging.
Some professional licenses and certifications may be denied or revoked due to a burglary conviction, limiting your career options and advancement opportunities.
Retaining a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer to help fight your burglary charges can significantly reduce the negative impact of a conviction on your future.
What to Expect During the Legal Process
Facing burglary charges can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the legal process. Here is a general overview of what to expect during the various stages of a burglary case in Maryland:
- Arrest and Charging:
Following an arrest for burglary, the police will submit their reports to the prosecutor's office, which will determine whether to file formal charges by indictment, or to dismiss felony charges at a preliminary hearing. In some cases, the prosecutor may decline to indict felony charges or may file lesser charges based on the available evidence, like misdemeanor burglary in the fourth degree.
- Initial Appearance and Bail Hearing:
Within a few days of your arrest, you will appear before a judge for an initial appearance and bail hearing. The judge will inform you of the charges against you, advise you of your rights, and determine whether you are eligible for bail.
- Preliminary Hearing:
If you are facing felony burglary charges, you may have a preliminary hearing, during which the prosecution must present evidence to establish probable cause that you committed the crime. If the judge determines that there is insufficient evidence, the charges may be dismissed
Hire FrizWoods for Your Case
At FrizWoods, our team of experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyers is dedicated to providing aggressive representation for clients facing burglary charges. We understand the complexities of Maryland criminal law and the potential consequences of a burglary conviction. Whether you are facing first, second, third, or fourth-degree burglary charges, our team is equipped to handle your case with the utmost professionalism and expertise.
We have offices throughout Maryland including Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and Prince George's County.
Trust the experienced attorneys at FrizWoods to provide you with the best possible defense for your burglary case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options. Don't leave your future to chance - let us help you navigate the legal process and fight for the best possible outcome.