Colorado Felony Burglary
In Colorado, Burglary involves illegally entering a building, or any locked container, with the intent to commit a crime. You must intend to commit an underlying crime, which can either be a crime against property, such as theft; or a crime against a person, such as assault. Like many Colorado criminal charges, burglary can be charged in different degrees according to the severity of the crime.
Third Degree Burglary
You commit Third Degree Burglary if you break into a vault, safe, or any locked container with the intent to commit a crime. Of course, the "crime" for which you must have the intent is usually theft in this case. This is why burglary charges often appear along with theft charges. Third Degree Burglary is a Class Five Felony carrying a possible sentence of one to three years in The Department of Corrections. If your "intent" when committing the burglary is to steal a controlled substance, usually drugs, then the burglary is a Class Four Felony, and carries more severe penalties.
Second Degree Burglary
Second Degree Burglary is when you unlawfully enter a building with the intent to commit any crime while you are there. You can also be charged with Second Degree Burglary if you enter a building lawfully, but then remain there when you are not legally allowed to (and have the intent to commit a crime). With Second Degree Burglary, the crime that is "intended" upon entry might be theft, but may also be assault - or some other crime against a person (rather than property). Your attorney will evaluate whether or not the District Attorney can prove that you had the intent to commit a criminal act within the building, as a possible defense to your case. In Colorado, Second Degree Burglary is a Class Four Felony if the building is a business or other industrial or commercial property. If you commit burglary of a dwelling, it is a Class Three Felony, and subjects you to substantially harsher penalties. Second Degree Burglary also jumps to a Class Three Felony if you intended to steal a controlled substance.
First Degree Burglary
First Degree Burglary is virtually the same as Second Degree, with the added element that you must assault or menace a person either while entering the building, while in the building, or while fleeing the building. First Degree Burglary is a Class Three Felony, carrying a possible prison sentence of four to twelve years. If you commit First Degree Burglary with the intent to steal a controlled substance, it becomes a Class Two Felony. If you have a restraining order against you, prohibiting you from being on the premises or contacting a person inside, then the violation of this restraining order qualifies as the underlying criminal act for the burglary – even if you didn’t intend to do anything wrong.
For more regarding the possible sentences for Colorado Criminal offenses, please visit our Sentencing page.
Intent is an Essential Element
In order to convict you of Burglary, the District Attorney must be able to prove that you had the intent to commit a crime when you broke and entered the place. The defendant is not guilty if he decided to commit a crime once he was already on the property. Breaking and entering is not necessary. If you enter the premises lawfully, but intend to commit a crime once you are there, you have committed Burglary in Colorado.
Burglary and Theft of a Controlled Substance
Burglary of a business is a Class Four Felony. However, if your intent during the burglary is to steal a controlled substance, then it becomes a Class Three Felony, and the maximum presumptive sentence jumps from 6 to 12 years in the Department of Corrections.