Maryland Burglary Lawyer
Crimes of burglary, or breaking and entering, are treated very seriously in Maryland. Burglary can be charged as one of four different degrees, with first, second and third degree burglary charges resulting in a felony conviction. The associated penalties can include up to 20 years in prison, fines and probation. You may also experience difficulty you’ll finding employment, loans and housing with a felony conviction on your permanent record. Even in cases of fourth degree burglary, defined as breaking into a building with no intention of committing a separate crime, the penalty is a misdemeanor, heavy fines and up to years in jail.
By hiring one of our seasoned, licensed burglary lawyers in Maryland, you’ll drastically improve your chances of receiving a favorable outcome to your burglary case. Our defense attorneys have years of experience defending clients under the most complex circumstances, and have accumulated excellent track records of success. Your attorney will guide you through each step of the legal process and fight for your right to a fair trial.
Definitions Important to Burglary Crimes in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-201 defines several terms used throughout the state’s criminal laws regarding burglary. According to this code, a burglar’s tool is defined as any device, instrument or tool designed, adapted or used to facilitate a crime of burglary. A burglar’s tool can be a bit, jack, prybar, crowbar, key, picklock, explosive material, or a device used to burn through solid material.
This same code also defines firearms, which can include handguns, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, regulated firearms and antique firearms. Firearms that have been modified in order to be permanently inoperable are not included in this definition.
Further, this code defines a storehouse as a building, storeroom, railroad car, vessel, aircraft, trailer, barn, pier, wharf, stable or watercraft.
First Degree Burglary in Maryland
According to Maryland criminal code § 6-202, it is illegal to break and enter into another individual’s dwelling with the intention of committing a crime of violence or theft. This is considered burglary in the first degree.
The penalty for burglary in the first degree in Maryland is a felony conviction, as well as imprisonment for no more than 20 years.
Second Degree Burglary in Maryland
Criminal code § 6-203 covers definitions and penalties relevant to burglary in the second degree. According to this code, it is illegal to break and enter into a storehouse with the intention of committing arson, a violent crime or theft. This code makes it equally illegal to break and enter a storehouse with the intention of taking or stealing a firearm, as per part (b) of the code.
Individuals who violate this law are subject to a felony conviction, as well as up to 15 years in prison. If the crime was committed with the intention of stealing a firearm, the penalty is elevated to up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of not more than $10,000.
Third Degree Burglary in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-204 covers laws pertaining to burglary in the third degree in Maryland. According to this code, it is illegal to break and enter into another individual’s dwelling with the intention of committing any crime. The difference between first degree and third degree burglary is that the former requires proof of the intention to commit a violent crime or theft, while the latter only requires proof of the intention to commit some other type of crime.
The penalty for third degree burglary in Maryland is a felony conviction, as well as up to 10 years in prison.
Fourth Degree Burglary in Maryland
Criminal code § 6-205 covers fourth degree burglary laws in Maryland. According to this code, it is illegal to break and enter into another individual’s dwelling. Part (b) of this code makes it illegal to break and enter into another individual’s storehouse.
Further, part (c) of this code makes it illegal for an individual to be on or in a dwelling, storehouse, garden, yard or other area belonging to another individual with the intention of committing theft.
Finally, part (d) of this code makes it illegal to possess a burglar’s tool with the intention of using it in the commission of a crime of burglary.
The penalty established for burglary in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor, unlike other burglary crimes that lead to a felony, as well as imprisonment for no longer than 3 years.
Complex real-world circumstances often make it difficult to determine whether an alleged crime of burglary should be charged in the first, second, third or fourth degree. This is particularly true because distinguishing between them often depends on perceived intent. For example, the only real difference between first degree and fourth degree burglary is that only the former includes the intention of stealing or committing a violent crime, while both include breaking and entering. These types of gray areas are just some of many in which a qualified, experienced Maryland burglary attorney can add clarity to your case and create a strong, custom-tailored defense.
Motor Vehicle Burglary in Maryland
According to Maryland criminal code § 6-206, it is illegal to enter into another individual’s motor vehicle with the intention of stealing the vehicle itself or any property contained within the motor vehicle. In addition, part (a) of this code makes it illegal to possess a burglar’s tool with the intention of using it or allowing it to be used to facilitate breaking into a motor vehicle.
The penalty for violating this law is a misdemeanor, as well as up to 3 years in prison. In addition, a person found guilty of this crime will be considered a rogue and vagabond by the court.
Burglary with Destructive Device in Maryland
It is illegal in Maryland to attempt to open or open a safe, vault or other secure repository by using a destructive device during the commission of a crime of first, second or third degree burglary, according to code § 6-207. According to code § 4-501, a destructive device is defined as a pipe bomb, Molotov cocktail, poison gas, flamethrower, missile, shell, mine, grenade, bomb or any explosive material combined with a detonating or delivery apparatus.
The penalty for committing burglary with a destructive device is a felony conviction, as well as up to 20 years in prison.
Research Facility Burglary in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-208 makes it illegal to break into a research facility without the facility’s permission in order to obtain control of property, or to alter, damage, deface, eradicate, remove or destroy research property. This same code defines a research facility as any enclosure, laboratory, pen, pasture, pond, pad or yard used to house research subjects, conduct research or store equipment, prototypes, data, records and supplies. Further, this code defines research as a serious and studious investigation, examination, inquiry or experiment designed to produce data, technologies or theories with proprietary, educational, scientific or governmental application. Finally, research property is defined as proprietary information, test results, data, records, research subjects, specimens and samples, or anything of value related to the research being conducted.
The penalty for burglarizing a research facility is a felony, as well as up to $5,000 in fines and 5 years of jail time.
Trespassing Law in Maryland
Trespassing is similar to burglary in that it involves entering private property such as a yard or acreage, but not an enclosure, dwelling or storefront. Our Maryland burglary defense attorneys are well-versed in trespassing law as well. According to criminal code § 6-402, it is illegal to trespass on property in which signage explicitly and conspicuously prohibits trespassing. Signage could include upright signs placed in visible locations, paint marks on posts or trees at road entrances and areas where other public or private property adjoins, or any other markers in compliance with the Department of Natural Resources.
The penalty for trespassing Maryland depends on whether the defendant has committed such crimes in the past. For first-time offenders, the penalty is a misdemeanor and up to 90 day in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.
For second-time offenders, the penalty is a misdemeanor along with up to 6 months in jail and no more than $1,000 in fines, so long as the second violation was committed within 2 years of the first.
For third-time offenders and beyond, the penalty is a misdemeanor along with up to 1 year in jail and no more than $2,500 in fines, so long as the violation was committed within 2 years of the previous violation.
Maryland Burglary Statistics
Overall, burglary crime rates in Maryland have steadily declined since the mid-80s, after a sharp rise and peak between 1975 and 1981. Currently, just over 600 burglary crimes are committed per 100,000 people per year in Maryland. Larceny and theft crime rates have also been descending since the mid-90s, but have started to plateau around 2,250 crimes per 100,000 people per annum in recent years. Still, this is well below the 3,500 per 100,000 per year rate that was observed around 1995.
A total of 36,700 breaking and entering crimes were reported in 2010, the most recent year for which data was available, the lowest quantity since 2005 and the lowest rate ever reported. About half as many motor vehicle thefts are reported each year.
Overall, Maryland is actually below the United States median for burglary crimes. Roughly 6.33 burglaries per 1,000 citizens are reported in Maryland annually, while 7 burglaries per 1,000 are reported in the U.S. as a whole.