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The Missouri definition of burglary is broader than most people think

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Missouri criminalizes a variety of different behaviors. It is illegal to steal property that belongs to another person or a business. It is also illegal to injure or intimidate people. Property crimes, white-collar crimes and violent crimes all cause harm to others in varying degrees.

Some criminal offenses fall clearly into one category of crime, while others could potentially fall into several different categories. People often lump burglary in with property crimes or theft offenses. However, burglary does not necessarily involve the attempt to steal from an individual or organization. The definition under state law extends to more situations than people realize. Theft does not necessarily need to be someone’s goal for them to face burglary charges.

How does Missouri define burglary?

The most basic definition of burglary relates to someone’s unlawful presence at a property. Breaking windows, picking locks or hiding at a store until after it closes with the intent of committing a crime could all potentially constitute burglary.

A first-degree burglary charge is likely close to what people think constitutes burglary overall. Those who unlawfully enter a property or remain in a building with the intent to commit a crime could face first-degree burglary charges if they have weapons or explosives with them. Additionally, threatening people they encounter or even being present when someone not involved in the crime is there could lead to Class B felony charges. The mere presence of an uninvolved individual on the premises during a burglary incident might put that person at risk of severe injury or potentially even death.

Someone doesn’t need to threaten another person, bring a weapon or endanger another person to face burglary charges. Simply accessing private property illegally or remaining inside a building with the intent to commit a crime could constitute second-degree burglary, which is a Class D felony under Missouri state law.

State prosecutors often treat first-degree burglary offenses in particular as though they were violent crimes. The charges that someone faces and the circumstances that led to their arrest can play a major role when deciding what defense strategy to utilize. Learning the basics about Missouri’s laws by seeking legal guidance can help those accused of violent criminal offenses, such as first-degree burglary charges.