What is the Law on Burglary in Tennessee and What are the Punishments for it?
Burglary is a crime that takes place when someone breaks in and enters a building without permission. Not only that, but the purpose of the break-in is to commit a crime. A person who breaks in and enters a property to steal would be charged with burglary even if he/she did not complete the intended crime. Each state in the US defines burglary in its own way and has statutes to deal with the circumstances of the case.
In Tennessee, burglary is a crime that is sub-divided into 3 statutes that each considers the various types of burglaries. The state has laid down the law regarding entering a property without permission as being when any part of the human body is located within the premises.
It also considers it a burglary when contact is made between the human body and an object or when an object is remotely controlled within a property. Tennessee also distinguishes between a property that is inhabited and other building types. Thus, a mobile home or tent or even a trailer are all considered habitations under Tennessee burglary laws.
Burglary law in Tennessee
The state defines burglary as entering a property with the permission of the owner and then committing any of the following acts:
- Entering a building including a part of it that is not open to the public to steal, assault someone or to commit a felony
- Hiding in a building with the sole intention of stealing, assaulting or committing a felony
- Entering a building to attempt to steal, assault or commit another felony act
- Entering a freight or passenger car or trailer or boat or car or plane or any motor vehicle to steal or assault someone or commit a felony
Tennessee further divides burglary as:
- Aggravated burglary, in which a person burgles a habitable property
- Especially aggravated burglary in which the burglar burgles a property and also seriously injures the victim. A victim is a person who is lawfully living within the premises
Characteristics of a burglary
There are two main characteristics of a burglary. These include unlawful entry and intent to commit a crime. For a burglary charge to stand in a court of law in Tennessee it is important to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that these two elements were present in the crime.
Entering the building involves breaking in or entering a property for which you do not have permission to enter. Even staying in the premise beyond the time allowed will be treated as entering without permission.
It is also necessary that the offender had planned to commit a crime in the premises after entering it unlawfully. There must be intent to commit a crime within the property. Possessing the tools of burglary is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Thus, possession of dynamite or torches or explosives will all lead to a charge of possession of tools of burglary.
Punishment for burglary in Tennessee
Tennessee defines most burglaries as a Class D felony though it also classifies some instances of burglary as a Class E felony. Aggravated burglary in the state is treated as a Class C felony and The state defines especially Aggravated Burglary as a Class B Felony.
If you are convicted of a Class B Felony, then the punishment for it is a prison sentence of anything from 8 to 30 years plus a maximum fine of not more than 25, 000 dollars. People convicted of a Class C Felony face prison time of between three and fifteen years plus a fine not exceeding 10, 000 dollars.
A Class D Felony conviction carries with a prison sentence of between 2 and 12 years plus a fine not exceeding 5,000 dollars. A Class E Felony conviction can lead to jail time of between 1 and 6 years plus a maximum fine of 3, 000 dollars.