The accused’s intentions distinguish a burglary from other property crimes in Seattle. For instance, trespassing can happen similar to a burglary, but the former’s intent is not to commit a criminal offense. Notably, convicts of this crime have had to deal with severe consequences, including life imprisonment. 

The burglary laws in Washington State are precise on the conditions that have to be met before a defendant is convicted. This means that with a good Seattle, Washington, criminal justice attorney, one can fight burglary charges and retain their innocence.

What Must the Prosecution Prove for Burglary in the First Degree?

You can be charged for first-degree burglary if you remain in or enter another person’s dwelling, home, mobile home, boat, or car. But the prosecution cannot convict you unless they prove all of the three elements of this type of burglary.

They include:

  • You unlawfully remained in or entered someone else’s property.
  • You specifically intended to commit a crime against their property or the person.
  • You or an accomplice was armed with a deadly weapon or assaulted someone when you remained in or entered the property.

Are the Charges for Second-Degree Burglary Less Severe?

The penalties for burglary in the second degree are not as severe as what is implicated in the first-degree burglary. An experienced burglary lawyer in Seattle can tell you the category an offense falls into based on the circumstances. A crime qualifies as a burglary of the second degree if:

  • You did not enter a person’s home.
  • You did not assault anyone.
  • You were not armed.

The judge can only convict you if the prosecution proves that the case meets all the elements of burglary of the second degree. The conditions include:

  • You entered or remained in someone’s property – other than their vehicle or dwelling – without authorization.
  • Your primary intention was to commit an offense against their property or the person.

What is Considered Residential Burglary in Seattle?

For a burglary offense to qualify as residential burglary, the jury has to be satisfied that the defendant:

  • Unlawfully remained in or entered someone’s house or dwelling – other than a vehicle.
  • Intended to commit an offense inside the property or against the dweller(s).

A conviction is only possible if the accused meets all the requirements of the specific type of burglary. So, if you have been charged today, a Seattle, WA, burglary lawyer is what you need to fight those charges.

Is Possession of Burglary Tools Punishable in Seattle?

Taking part in the fabrication of burglary tools or being found in possession is a criminal offense in Seattle. However, the prosecutor has a duty to prove that the circumstances implied that you intended to use the tools in a burglary. Examples are bits and nippers, pick locks or false keys.

What Are the Sentences and Fines for Burglary in Seattle?

The punishment for burglary is very harsh, and the worst a defendant can do is panic and let the prosecution take control of their fate. A skilled burglary lawyer in Seattle can convince the prosecutor or the court to dismiss your charges or negotiate for the least harsh penalty.

Here are the possible charges:

Burglary in the First-Degree: As a Class A felony, the fines can go up to $50,000, and one can receive up to life imprisonment, or both.

Burglary in the Second-Degree: The maximum sentence for this Class B felony is ten years, and the fines can go up to $20,000 or both.

Residential Burglary: It is a Class B felony, and convicts may part with up to $20,000, stay in jail for a maximum of 10 years, or both. 

Manufacture/Possession of Burglary Tools: It is a gross misdemeanor whose penalty is a prison sentence of up to a year, a fine of $5,000, or both.

What Happens If the Defendant Actually Committed Another Crime?

The intention to commit a criminal offense can convict you of burglary. But if the defendant actually went ahead and committed the intended crime, they will also be punished for it. The additional crime sentencing will be added to the burglary charges and can lengthen the imprisonment period. However, an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Seattle can ask the court for leniency.

What Are the Legal Defenses Against Burglary Charges?

While there are several defenses against burglary charges, it takes a skilled and experienced criminal justice attorney in Seattle to give your case the best outcomes. Here are ways to get a dismissal or reduced penalties:

Challenging the Prosecutor’s Proof

Each type of burglary has two or three elements that the prosecutor has to prove before a conviction. Challenging one or more of the proofs is an excellent way to fight the accusations. For instance, you can challenge the evidence of intent. 

Proving That You Were Lawfully Present

Showing that you had the authorization to be on the property can weaken the case against you. It could be a text or email conversation that demonstrates your communication with someone allowing you to be on the premises.

Proving Actual Innocence

When you are actually innocent, it will be easy to identify flaws in the prosecutor’s arguments and expose them. There will also be evidence to support your story, for instance, an alibi. The goal is to get the jury to doubt the charges being brought against you.

Learn Your Legal Options with The Help of a Legal Counsel

The implications of a conviction can be life-changing, considering the severity of the penalties in Seattle. You deserve a burglary defense lawyer that can handle your case without judgment or prejudice.

Burglary is not that easy to prove, especially producing evidence that shows intent. The process begins by carefully reviewing the circumstances surrounding the incident and all other facets of the case. 

A skilled Seattle burglary attorney can defend you and earn back your freedom. Your lawyer should get you an acquittal, a dismissal, or mitigated charges, depending on your situation. Get started by calling us today at (206) 382-9200.