Burglary is a felony offense in Washington State, with very serious penalties and consequences. There are four separate burglary-related statutes in Washington. Violations of these statutes each carry separate, specific penalties. If you are charged with one of these offenses, it is essential that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Given the seriousness of the charges, you will need skilled, experienced, high quality legal counsel.
- Burglary in the first degree (RCW 9A.52.020): A person is guilty of burglary in the first degree if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein (residence or non-residence), he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building and if, in entering or while in the building or in immediate flight therefrom, the actor or another participant in the crime (a) is armed with a deadly weapon, or (b) assaults any person.
- Penalty: Burglary in the first degree is a class A felony, punishable by lengthy periods of incarceration including up to life in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both a fine and prison time.
- Residential burglary (RCW 9A.52.025): A person is guilty of residential burglary if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, the person enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling other than a vehicle.
- Penalty: Residential burglary is a class B felony, punishable by prison sentences up to 10 years and/or fines up to $20,000. In establishing sentencing, residential burglary is to be considered a more serious offense than second degree burglary.
- Burglary in the second degree (RCW 9A.52.030): A person is guilty of burglary in the second degree if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building other than a vehicle or a dwelling.
- This is the least severe of the burglary offenses because it does not include burglarizing a home and the accused is not armed. However, it is still a felony charge.
- Penalty: Burglary in the second degree is a class B felony, punishable by prison sentences up to 10 years and/or fines up to $20,000. In establishing sentencing, burglary in the second degree is to be considered a less serious offense than residential burglary.
- Possession of burglar tools (RCW 9A.52.060): A person is guilty of making of having burglar tools if they make or have in their possession any tool that is commonly used for burglary (crow-bars, lock pit, false key, dynamite torches, etc) under circumstances indicating an intent to use or employ.
- Penalty: Making of having burglar tools is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
It is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today if you or someone you love have been charged with a burglary-related crime. The elements of the definitions listed above must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes unlawful entry and criminal intent. You will need a knowledgeable attorney with experience and expertise to challenge your case effectively. Penalties and consequences are severe and potentially life-changing – There is no time to waste. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.