Defending a Charge of Burglary in Arkansas
Burglary is considered a very serious offense under Arkansas law. It is committed when a person unlawfully enters into or remains in a building that belongs to another person, with the intention to commit a crime.
As far as the offense of burglary is concerned, it does not even matter that a crime is not actually committed inside the building. Under the law, the offense of burglary is committed as soon as the person enters the building with the prohibited intent.
Due to the fact that burglary raises serious concerns about the safety of homeowners, their family and property, it carries very stiff penalty under Arkansas law. As such, the offense of burglary is generally punished as a felony. This means that if you are charged or convicted for burglary, you could be facing substantial jail time, as well as a hefty fine.
Further complicating the issue is the fact that the offense of burglary rarely occurs alone. In certain situations, it will also involve acts that amount to the offense of Trespass or even Breaking and Entering. This means that a person arrested for burglary may face additional charges for these offenses and the possibility of higher jail time. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone…that’s where our law firm comes in.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been arrested or charged for burglary, it is critical for you to contact one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers immediately. This is because the longer you stay without a criminal defense lawyer in the process, the greater the chance you may say or do something that significantly impacts your case.
At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A., we have adopted a reputation for aggressively fighting our clients’ cases. We understand that there are always two sides to a story and a crucial part of our work is to protect your legal rights and make sure your side of the story is heard. Our lawyers will meet with you directly and we will work side by side to build a strong case of innocence. Contact our office today at 479-361-3575 for your free, no obligation consultation.
Types of Burglary Under Arkansas Law
Under Arkansas law, there are two broad types of burglary. It may be Residential, also called “home invasion burglary” or Commercial. In both cases, the offense is committed as soon as a person enters the building with the intention to commit a crime punishable by time in prison. Although, they carry different ranges of punishment, with residential burglary being generally more severe.
Also, depending on the severity of the acts involved in the commission of the offense, it could amount to Aggravated Burglary.
When a person enters a “residential occupiable structure” with intent to commit a crime, they may be charged with residential burglary. This means that a person who enters into a home or residence commits the offense.
A residential occupiable structure under Arkansas law includes a building, boat, vehicle or any other structure that a person lives or sleeps in. It would not matter that there was no one at home when the person entered.
If the offense is committed with the aid of a weapon or threats relating to a weapon, or if injury or death is caused in the process, the offense becomes much more serious.
A commercial burglary is committed when a person enters into a “commercial occupiable structure”.
Structures of this nature include offices, government buildings, schools, places of worship, public transit facilities or any other place where people engage in business. In any of these places, commercial burglary will be committed when a person enters with intent to commit a crime.
Just as the name implies, aggravated burglary covers the commission of a burglary in aggravating circumstances. In these circumstances, it means that the severity of the acts involved in the commission of the offense are such that much stiffer punishment is required.
Examples of situations that might amount to aggravated burglary include using a weapon such as a knife or a gun. It could also include situations where serious injury or death is caused to the victim.
Statistics on Burglary in Arkansas
According to statistics, a property crime occurs every 3.7 seconds, with one house in the US being burglarized every 20 seconds. The crime of burglary occurs rather frequently in Arkansas. This is one of the reasons why it is taken so seriously.
Reports show that in 2017, there were 21,862 burglaries in Arkansas. The top ten worst spots for burglary in Arkansas experienced a combined total of 2,825 incidents.
Potential Punishments for Burglary in Arkansas
Burglary is generally punished as a felony. This means it is one of a class of offenses that generally attracts mandatory jail time and or fine. Each of the categories of burglary will attract varying punishment as follows:
Commercial burglary: This is a Class C felony and it is punishable by jail time ranging from 3 – 10 years in prison. It could also attract a fine of up to $10,000.
Residential burglary: As a Class B felony, residential burglary attracts between 5 – 20 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $15,000.
Aggravated burglary: This is a Class Y felony, the most serious class of offenses. Conviction here can attract a prison term ranging from 10 – 40 years or life. It generally carries hard labor of at least 1 year and a person convicted for this offense will be treated differently under parole laws. This means they may not be eligible for early parole.
Possible Defenses for Charges of Burglary
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to rely on a range of defenses in answering your burglary charge. Some of the possible defenses you may rely on include the following:
- No intent to commit a crime: In a charge for burglary, the prosecution must prove that you intended to commit a crime in the building. While this may be easy to prove in some cases, such as where a weapon or violent conduct is involved, it is generally difficult to prove. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know what facts to emphasize that show you had to intent to commit a crime.
- Crime intended is not punishable by imprisonment: It is also a specific requirement of the offense that the crime intended be punishable by imprisonment. This can be a defense if no such crime was intended.
- Entry was not unlawful: If you entered into and remained in the building lawfully, you can raise a defense that your presence there was not unlawful. This negates an important element of the offense.
These are only a few of the defenses that may be open to you. It is important to tell our criminal defense lawyers everything you can remember about the circumstances as these will dictate the defenses we can rely on.
Contact First Rate Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been arrested or charged with the offense of burglary, it is crucial that you take swift action to retain a qualified criminal defense attorney. The quicker you brief a lawyer on the case, the better you improve your chances of a positive outcome.
The skilled criminal defense attorneys at the Law of Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. have years of experience defending cases just like yours. Let us put that experience to work for you. Contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at 479-361-3575 today for a full explanation of your rights and the best plan of action for your case.