What is the Law on Burglary in Georgia and What are the Punishments for it?
Across all states of the US, Burglary is identified as a severe crime and Georgia is no exception Unlawful entry of premises or property with the intent to commit a crime is sufficient to cause for any law enforcement agency to charge the intruder with burglary.
Traditionally, burglary only incorporated the forceful entry into any dwelling at night with the intent to enact a felony therein. The modern interpretation, as amended in many States including Georgia, can convict an intruder of burglary for unauthorized entry at any given the time of day, into a building or part of building closed for public access, vehicle, or house with the intent to commit a crime.
Commission of the intended crime is viewed as a separate felony apart from burglary and the offender is prosecuted for burglary with the intent to commit stated crime as well as the stated crime, under separate statutes.
The Law for Burglary in the State of Georgia is drafted as Article 1, Chapter 16 of the Georgia Code, also known as GA Code § 16-7-1 (2014). The said citation explains the crime of burglary as:
- Entry and occupancy without authorization and with the intent to execute a felony or theft at the property or premises entered, irrespective of the fact that the said premises are occupied or inhabited by anyone else. Entry by use of force, fraudulent practices, deceit, and pretenses are all considered as unauthorized means of entry. For example, a man who posed as a potential homebuyer for theft from a house was found guilty of burglary by the Supreme Court of Georgia, since the permission to enter the house was secured through fraudulent means. Furthermore, it is not necessary to commit the crime to be convicted of burglary, proof of intent is sufficient.
- The said property or premise includes any structure designed for use as a dwelling by another, any habitable structure that is permissible by law for occupancy, any place of residence, a vehicle, a railroad car i.e. flatcar, container on a flatcar, container/trailer on railroad property, aircraft, boat or watercraft. Hence, prosecution for burglary mandates the existence of two conditions i.e. unauthorized entry and the intent to violate criminal law.
The statute above also distinguishes between burglaries as 1st degree and 2nd-degree offenses as well as stipulates stricter punishments for repeat offenders. An elaboration of the same is given below:
- 1st Degree Burglary: If the structure intruded upon is a home, a dwelling house or a residence, the burglary is deemed to be a 1st-degree felony and the guilty is punished with a prison term of 1 to 20 years. If found guilty of 1st-degree burglary a second time, the conviction could be imprisonment for 2 to 20 years. Additionally, if found guilty of 1st-degree burglary for the third time or more, the defendant shall be sent to prison for a period no less than 5 years and no more than 25 years.
- 2nd Degree Burglary: If the structure intruded upon is any other than a home or a dwelling, the burglary is deemed to be a 2nd-degree felony and the guilty is punished with a prison term of 1 to 5 years. Repeat offense for a 2nd time shall be punishable with a prison term of 1 to 8 year.
- Irrespective of the degree of felony, if the repeat offender is found guilty of a fourth conviction of burglary, he/she will be waived all opportunities for suspension or withholding of the prison sentence, adjudication of guilt, deferment and/or probation.