New Jersey Burglary Arrest & Indictment
Criminal Defense Lawyers & Former Prosecutors
If you were charged with burglary, you are probably wondering what your next move should be. Since burglary is always an indictable felony offense, an experienced defense attorney is a must in our judgment. Our attorneys include Jonathan F. Marshall, a former prosecutor with almost 20 years of experience, Thomas V. Campo, who is also a former County and municipal prosecutor with over 15 years in practice, and Colin Bonus, who has been defending charges for almost 30 years. Our criminal defense law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, defends individuals on burglary charges in Middlesex County, Ocean County, Monmouth County, Union County and elsewhere in NJ. If you were arrested, charged or indicted for Burglary, our lawyers are available to assist you 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301. We hope you find the following information regarding the burglary law in New Jersey of assistance.
New Jersey Burglary Law
The Burglary Statute provides:
N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2. Burglary
a. Burglary defined. A person is guilty of burglary if, with purpose to commit an offense therein he:
(1) Enters a research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof unless the structure was at the time open to the public or the actor is licensed or privileged to enter; or
(2) Surreptitiously remains in a research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so.
b. Grading. Burglary is a crime of the second degree if in the course of committing the offense, the actor:
(1) Purposely, knowingly or recklessly inflicts, attempts to inflict or threatens to inflict bodily injury on anyone; or
(2) Is armed with or displays what appear to be explosives or a deadly weapon.
Otherwise burglary is a crime of the third degree. An act shall be deemed "in the course of committing" an offense if it occurs in an attempt to commit an offense or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission.
Explanation of the New Jersey Burglary Law
A fundamental distinction between a typical theft and a burglary is entry into a "structure". The term "structure" is not only defined to include a house or commercial structure, but also includes occupied portions of divided structures such as an apartment, hotel room, or business office. Accordingly, where an individual enters the room of another hotel guest or the office of another commercial tenant and the entry is unauthorized, the burglary statute applies. It is important to keep in mind that it is not necessary for a "breaking and entering" to occur for entry to be unauthorized such that a burglary arrest or charge to be filed. For example, where an employee enters his employers business when he is unauthorized to do so for the purpose of committing a theft, that is a burglary. What is obviously pivotal under the burglary statute is that there is no license or privilege to enter the structure and also that the entry be for purposes of committing another criminal offense. Accordingly, a burglary arrest or indictment cannot withstand muster unless the state can establish that the entry was for some purpose other than to trespass. The accused must have possessed an intent to commit a separate offense subsequent to entry into the structure. The burglary statute thus requires four (4) elements to be established before a conviction may be had: (1) the defendant must have undertaken an entry; (2) the entry must have been into a structure or research facility; (3) the structure must not have been open to the public nor may a privilege or license of entry exist; and (4) the entry must have been with the purpose to commit another criminal offense. If any one of these elements is lacking, a criminal defense lawyer from our firm shall move to dismiss the indictment or charge.
The doctrine of merger often arises in a burglary case since it is often alleged that an accused had multiple criminal purposes in entering a structure. For example, it may be claimed that a defendant entered a structure to not only take property but also to commit an assault. While the state may file two additional criminal charges, are there also two commensurate burglaries? There is only one burglary or entry under the circumstances (i.e. merger), but separate charges may be filed if multiple criminal offenses are committed following entry or burglary. A burglary conviction will not therefore merge into a robbery or an assault. It is important for a knowledgeable criminal attorney to be enlisted as the doctrine of merger can be technical.
Burglary is typically a Third Degree Crime but may be escalate to a Second Degree Crime under certain circumstances. In this regard, a burglary is no longer a Third Degree Offense where the purpose for the unauthorized entry is to commit an assault. Burglary is a Second Degree Crime under this circumstances, as well as where a defendant intentionally or recklessly inflicts or threats to inflict bodily injury to another. If must be kept in mind, however, that the standard to be applied is "recklessness", therefore, injuries or threats of injury resulting from simple negligence will not form a proper basis for Second Degree Burglary. Another exception which elevates a burglary to a Second Degree Crime is where an accused commits a burglary while displaying or possessing what appears to be a deadly weapon. Where the weapon is a firearm or the accused takes possession of a firearm in the course of the burglary and theft, the parole ineligibility mandates of New Jersey's Graves Act applies. The Graves Act requires that eighty-five (85) percent of any sentence be served before a defendant is eligible for parole.
Please do not hesitate to contact our criminal defense lawyers if you or a loved one has been arrested or indicted for burglary. While burglary charges can be founded factually, we also find this offense to be over-charged. Our attorneys find burglary charges filed in situations where there was no secondary criminal purpose for an entry or where there was a privilege to enter. Irrespective, a lawyer from our law firm is prepared to assist you and initial consultations with an attorney from our law office are free of charge. We are ready to handle your burglary case anywhere in NJ including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Union County, Mercer County, Atlantic County, Essex County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Bergen County, Morris County, and Passaic County.