Burglary Crimes and Laws in Seattle, WA

 

Burglary Crimes and Laws in Seattle, WA

Burglary is a big problem here in Seattle. Lots of folks have had their homes or businesses broken into before. It’s a scary thing to have happen and can make you feel really unsafe. The good news is that Washington has some pretty strict laws about burglary to try to prevent it from happening and punish anyone who does it.

There’s a few different kinds of burglary charges in Washington. The main ones are first degree burglary, second degree burglary, residential burglary, and possession of burglar tools. The laws are kind of confusing and it depends on exactly what the person did as to what they’ll be charged with. I’ll try to explain the different charges and what they mean.

First Degree Burglary

A person can be charged with first degree burglary if they unlawfully go into someone else’s home, building, car, boat, trailer, etc. and they intend to commit a crime against someone or steal something. Burglary is a felony charge. First degree burglary is the most serious burglary charge in Washington. For someone to be convicted of first degree burglary, the prosecutor has to prove these things:

  • The person went into someone else’s property unlawfully
  • They intended to commit a crime when they went inside
  • They had a deadly weapon with them OR they assaulted someone while inside or while running away

First degree burglary is a Class A felony. That’s the most serious type of felony in Washington. If convicted, a person could face:

  • Up to life in prison
  • Up to a $50,000 fine
  • Or both prison time and a fine

So first degree burglary is treated really seriously under Washington law. The penalties if convicted are very very harsh.

Second Degree Burglary

Second degree burglary is the next most serious burglary charge in Washington after first degree. For someone to be convicted of second degree burglary, the prosecutor has to prove these things:

  • The person went into someone else’s building unlawfully (but not their home)
  • They intended to commit a crime when they went inside

Second degree burglary is still a felony, but not as serious as first degree. If convicted of second degree burglary, a person could face:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • Up to a $20,000 fine
  • Or both prison time and a fine

Residential Burglary

Residential burglary is when someone unlawfully goes into someone else’s home (but not other buildings or cars, etc) intending to commit a crime. To be convicted of residential burglary, the prosecutor has to prove:

  • The person went into someone else’s home unlawfully
  • They intended to commit a crime when they went inside

Residential burglary is a Class B felony. If convicted, a person faces:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • Up to a $20,000 fine
  • Or both prison time and a fine

Possession of Burglar Tools

It’s also illegal in Washington to make or possess tools that are commonly used for burglary. Things like lock picks, crowbars, key cutters, etc. To be convicted of this charge, the prosecutor has to prove:

  • The person made or had burglar tools
  • They intended to use the tools to commit burglary

This is a gross misdemeanor charge. If convicted, a person faces:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to a $5,000 fine
  • Or both jail time and a fine

Other Crimes Committed During Burglary

Sometimes when someone commits a burglary, they also commit other crimes inside like assault, theft, or vandalism. In those cases, they can be charged with those additional crimes on top of the burglary charge. The penalties for the other crimes would be added to the burglary penalties if they’re convicted.

Defenses Against Burglary Charges

There are some legal defenses that a good lawyer can use to defend someone against burglary charges. The main defense is to argue that the prosecutor can’t prove all the elements they need to prove for a conviction. For any burglary charge, the prosecutor has to show the person went into the property unlawfully and that they intended to commit a crime inside. A lawyer may argue there’s no solid proof the person intended to commit a crime. Or they may argue the person had permission to be there or didn’t actually go inside at all. Questioning the strength of the prosecutor’s evidence is the main way to defend against burglary charges.

If you or someone you know gets charged with burglary in Seattle, it’s really important to talk to a criminal defense lawyer right away. An experienced lawyer understands Washington’s burglary laws and the defenses that can work. They can carefully examine the prosecutor’s evidence and look for any chance to get the charges reduced or dismissed. With such serious penalties on the line, you don’t want to try to defend against burglary charges yourself. Get an expert criminal defense lawyer on your side quickly.