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What is Third-Degree Burglary?

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Stephen Shepard

Stephen Shepard is the Principal Attorney and Counselor at Law at The Law Office of Stephen P. Shepard, LLC in Towson, MD.

Towson, MD burglary attorney Stephen P. Shepard

Third-degree burglary is the breaking and entering into someone else’s dwelling with the intent to commit any crime. See Md. Code Ann. Criminal Law 6-204. A person who is convicted of burglary in the third degree is guilty of a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years of incarceration.

What is Breaking?

The “breaking” element of third-degree burglary can be either actual or constructive. “Actual breaking” means creating or causing to be created some type of opening or other point of access. Using just the slightest amount of force to enter a dwelling is sufficient to support the breaking element of third-degree burglary. For example, pushing open a door or opening an unlocked window is considered to be an actual breaking. However, there cannot be an actual breaking if a person has permission to enter a dwelling. “Constructive breaking,” on the other hand, means accessing a dwelling by fraud, conspiracy, or threats. See Williams v. State, 342 Md. 724 (1996). In other words, a constructive breaking does not require evidence of forced entry. For example, tricking someone inside of the dwelling to open the door or using threats to get someone inside of the dwelling to open the door is considered a constructive breaking.

What is Entering?

To support a third-degree burglary charge, a person enters the dwelling of another if his or her body or any part of his or her body crosses the threshold of the dwelling, even if only for a brief moment. For example, a person is considered to have entered a dwelling if, after breaking the glass of a door or a window, the person reaches his or her hand inside to unlock the door or window.

What is a Dwelling?

A dwelling, in the context of third-degree burglary, is a structure or building that is regularly or normally used as a place for people to sleep. A house, an apartment, or a mobile home are all examples of a dwelling. It is not necessary that the breaking and entering occur at night when people are usually sleeping nor is it necessary that the structure of building being broken into be occupied at the time. Therefore, a single-family home that had been vacant for some time may serve as a dwelling for the purpose of supporting a third-degree burglary charge. See Hobby v. State, 436 Md. 526 (2014).

Baltimore County, MD Burglary Attorney

Contact our office today for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with third-degree burglary. A Baltimore County, MD burglary attorney can carefully evaluate the evidence against you, explore possible defenses, and either avoid a conviction altogether or minimize the consequences of a conviction.

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