What is the Law on Burglary in North Dakota and What are the Punishments for it?
A community is at peace when there are clearly defined laws which uphold every citizen’s best interest. Criminal laws are integral in ensuring that no citizen is wronged and indirectly deter would-be criminals.
The first image that comes to mind when you think of burglary is of a thief lurking in the shadows, trying to enter someone’s house. While such is the image, the law defines burglary differently covering a wider range of activities. Each state has a specific law to categorize burglary but it is considered a crime, nevertheless.
The act of burglary is committed by a person who enters a building with the intention of committing a crime within. To prove that a burglary was committed, a prosecutor must provide indisputable evidence on the following to convince the jury.
Entering the structure of a building
In the past, burglary laws were restricted to the act of unlawfully entering into someone’s house. Today, the laws extend to structures and not just buildings or homes. There are specific state laws which categorize the various types of structures which are considered as buildings with respect to burglary crimes.
These can include schools, stores, campsites, trailer homes, houseboats, and tents. There is also a differentiation in the severity of punishment between burglaries committed in a commercial building against residential. A structure is considered as a residence when there is a person living within. These can be apartments or homes.
Illegal and forceful entry
An important task a prosecutor faces is proving that the accused entered the premises illegally without permission. An entry is illegal if the building is private or public but not open at the time of entry. Entering a public building with the intention of committing a crime also constitutes burglary.
An example of such a situation is entering a gas station with the intention of stealing money from the counter or merchandise.
The reasoning here is that a public building such as a store is welcoming to only those customers who come for legitimate purposes. Should a thief enter such an establishment, it is automatically considered a burglary because the permission to enter doesn’t apply here.
Breaking into a building is considered as burglary, as well. Any hint of forced entry is considered as breaking in or forced entry.
The intention of committing a felony
A prosecutor must unfailingly prove that the accused entered the building intending to commit theft or felony. It is still considered a burglary when a thief enters a building illegally with an intention of theft but changes his mind later on. On the flip side, when a thief enters a building without any intention of committing theft or felony but decides to do so, is not considered a burglary but theft.
Classes of burglary felonies in ND and punishment
There are two classes of burglary felonies (N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-22-02.)1. Class B felony: A felony is considered class B when the offense is committed at night, and the perpetrator knowingly enters someone's house. Another situation is when the perpetrator inflicts bodily harm or physical restraint to another while in possession of a firearm. The preparedness to cause bodily harm, either while entering or exiting the building or structure, is categorized as a class B felony. The punishment of class B felony is up to 10 years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 fine.
2. Class C felony: A burglary which doesn’t fall into the category of class B, is grouped as class C. Punishment of class C felony is up to 5 years’ of jail time and up to $5000 in fines