Entering into, or remaining in, another’s property or building without permission is a crime. If you are found to be on another’s property unlawfully, you could be charged with trespass or burglary depending on the circumstances of the case. If you’ve been accused of committing either one of these serious crimes, talk to a qualified lawyer as soon as possible.
Trespass or Burglary?
Although trespass and burglary are both serious crimes, being convicted of burglary carries much heavier consequences. The difference between a misdemeanor trespass charge and, a more serious, felony burglary charge, is the individual’s “intent” when on the property.
Trespass is defined under Missouri law as unlawfully entering or remaining in a building or property. Basically, if you are found to be on another’s property without permission, you can be found guilty of trespass. You do not even need to have knowledge of the nature of the property in order to be found guilty; simply being on the property unlawfully is enough for a conviction.
The more serious crime of burglary, on the other hand, involves the intent to commit a crime while on another’s property unlawfully. In other words, if you are found to have trespassed with the purpose of committing a crime, a conviction for burglary can follow.
Proof of Intent to Commit a Crime
In Missouri, to obtain a conviction for the crime of burglary, the state only needs to show:
- The accused entered or remained in a building without permission, and
- Intended to commit a crime therein.
You do not have to actually commit a crime to be charged with burglary; you only have to have the intent to do so. The state may prove intent several ways. For example, the state can try to prove intent when a crime actually takes place or may also present other, circumstantial evidence, to show intent.
It is also important to know that you do not have to break and enter a building, or use force when entering, to commit the crime of burglary. It is enough that you entered or remained in the building without permission.
Penalties for Trespass and Burglary
Trespass can either be in the first or second degree. A conviction of second degree trespass is merely an infraction while first degree trespass is a misdemeanor.
Burglary is much more serious and carries felony penalties for both first and second degree burglary. A second degree burglary charge becomes a first degree burglary charge if the accused:
- was armed with explosives or a deadly weapon
- caused or threatened injury to another individual not participating in the crime
- another individual was present in the structure that was not a participant in the crime
If the state can prove any of the above factors, penalties can include five to fifteen years in prison in addition to any charges and penalties associated with the crime, or intended crime, that was committed.
Hire an Experienced Attorney
Being accused of burglary can have a lasting impact on your life and your future and can include years in prison. Contact the experienced attorneys at the KC Defense Counsel to discuss your criminal defense case as soon as possible.