Third-degree burglary is a property crime in which a person breaks and enters someone else’s dwelling with the intent to commit any crime once inside. 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).
What is the Penalty for Third-Degree Burglary?
A person who is found guilty and convicted of burglary in the third degree is guilty of a felony property offense that is punishable by up to 10 years of active incarceration.
Baltimore County, MD Burglary Attorney
Being accused of third-degree burglary is a matter that should be taken extremely seriously because of the potential consequences that are involved if convicted. Contact our office today for a free consultation with an experienced Baltimore County, MD criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with burglary in the third degree. During your free consultation at our Towson, MD office, our principal attorney will discuss the facts of your case with you, explore possible defenses to the charge, and ways to avoid or minimize the consequences of a conviction.