“Breaking and entering” in Maryland is just another way to say “burglary.”

Burglary is divided into four different degrees, based on severity:

  • First degree burglary is breaking and entering into somebody’s home or structure with the intent to commit a theft or violent crime.
  • Second degree burglary applies to storehouse (like sheds or garages), as opposed to homes, and includes the intention to commit theft, a violent crime, arson, or steal a firearm.
  • Third degree burglary includes the intent to commit any crime in someone’s dwelling.
  • Fourth degree burglary includes breaking and entering a dwelling or a storehouse without the intent to commit a crime, or entering an area around the structure to attempt a theft.

Defenses to burglary charges

There are different types of defenses to burglary charges. One defense that likely will fail is the one reported by ABC 11 recently, about a Florida man (isn’t is always) who blamed the breaking and entering on his horse. The homeowner learned of the entry through alerts from his phone. When he got home, he asked the man why he was in his house. The rider said, “My horse broke into your house, mister, and I had to go in and get her.”

The video showed that the rider broke a window to get into the home. The rider told police that “the horse went into the yard through a broken fence, so he followed it.” As if the story wasn’t absurd enough, the person accused of burglary of the dwelling didn’t even own the horse.

While the accused can’t blame the breaking and entry on the horse, he might, with the help of experienced legal counsel, argue that he didn’t intend to commit a crime inside.

Other defenses and defense arguments, aside from the lack of intent to commit a crime, that apply in burglary cases are:

  • The accused did have permission to enter the property
  • There was no “breaking” because the property was open
  • The property wasn’t a dwelling or a storehouse
  • The accused only decided to commit the crime after he/she had entered the property

Another common defense called “mere presence” may apply when a group of people enter a building. Often, a ringleader is the one who has the intent to commit the crime. The other members of the group are just following his lead, without intent on their own. Their argument is that they are just trespassers, not people committing a burglary.

That the accused did not commit a crime while inside – even though he/she intended to commit one – is not a defense, though it still may help persuade a prosecutor to agree to lesser chargers.

At the Annapolis criminal defense law firm of Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, we have been fighting for justice for defendants for almost 20 years. We understand how scary the criminal litigation process can be. We work with your to raise all possible defenses and to hold the government to its burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. To speak with a highly respected Annapolis theft defense lawyer, call Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, at 410.777.8103, or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.

And remember: Keep Calm, and Call Drew.