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Louisiana criminal defense: Burglary, what is exactly?

There are a lot of people that think of burglary, theft and robbery as the same thing, but they are not. Theft and robbery refer to the actual taking of something that belongs to someone else, with or without force. Burglary, on the other hand, refers to unlawful entry into a property with intent to commit any sort of crime. In Louisiana, burglary is a felony offense, and as such, a person charged with this crime would likely benefit from the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help fight his or her case in court.

What elements must be present for a prosecuting attorney to achieve a conviction on a burglary charge? There are three basic elements according to common law. First, a prosecutor must show that the accused gained unlawful entry -- with or without force. Second, that entry must be into a building of some sort -- a dwelling or business, for example. Third, prosecutors must prove the accused had intent to commit a crime after entering the property.

The type of property one is accused of entering illegally will matter when it comes to burglary charges. For example, going into an abandoned building to commit a crime is not likely to result in a burglary charge, though other charges may result. According to common law, it has to be a structure that is considered legally habitable or safe for the occupancy of people or animals.

The consequences tied to a burglary conviction can be quite severe. In Louisiana, punishments may include fines and prison time. The length of imprisonment will vary based on the type of burglary charge involved and the specific details of one's case; generally speaking though, the penalties are significant enough that they can drastically alter the course of one's life. As this is the case, how one's criminal defense is planned and presented is really going to matter. An experienced attorney will be able to assist those accused of burglary is pursing legal courses that will best benefit their situations.

Source: FindLaw, "Burglary Overview", Accessed on May 9, 2017

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