New Jersey Burglary Defense Lawyers
Under New Jersey law, burglary involves entering a “structure” illegally in order to commit theft or any other crime. The threat and intrusion of committing a crime while in someone else’s home, office, store, etc., is reason for burglary to be penalized by heavy fines and many years in prison, including up to 10 years and $150,000 in fines if violence or a weapon is used.
Anyone charged with burglary in New Jersey needs the immediate assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we can provide a legal defense capable of keeping you out of jail and a burglary conviction off your record. No matter the circumstances of the burglary case against you, we can help you reach the most favorable resolution to the case available under New Jersey law.
Our lawyers were prosecutors and public defenders in courts across New Jersey for decades prior to joining our firm as defense attorneys. We understand the law and how prosecutors pursue burglary cases. Our firm also has the resources necessary to develop and present a solid defense against burglary charges.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is known as a firm that uses creative and strategic defenses to resolve criminal cases to the benefit of its clients. And because of our experience in New Jersey courtrooms, prosecutors know us well enough to truly consider our suggestions as we negotiate for lesser charges or sentences, or for charges to be dismissed.
If you have been arrested or indicted on burglary charges in New Jersey, you should speak with an attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall as soon as possible. An initial legal consultation is free, and we can meet with you at any of our nine New Jersey locations. Call or fill out our online form today to set up a discussion of the legal options for protecting you from the potentially severe consequences of burglary charges.
What Are Burglary Charges under New Jersey Law?
New Jersey law defines burglary as unlawfully entering or hiding to remain in a “research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof” with the “purpose to commit an offense [crime] therein.”
The term “structure” applies to almost any type of building, including a house, store or other commercial structure, as well as occupied portions of divided structures, such as apartments, hotel rooms, or business offices.
Burglary may be charged as a third-degree offense, which is punishable 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Burglary becomes a more serious, second-degree offense if, while committing burglary, a person:
- Purposely, knowingly or recklessly inflicts, attempts to inflict or threatens to inflict bodily injury on anyone; or
- Is armed with or displays what appears to be explosives or a deadly weapon.
“Bodily injury” under New Jersey law means physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition. A “deadly weapon” is any firearm or other weapon, device, instrument, material or substance capable of producing death or serious bodily injury, or that the victim could reasonably believe to be so capable.
A second-degree offense is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
In addition, if a person is convicted of possessing a firearm during a burglary, New Jersey’s Graves Act requires that 85 percent of any sentence be served before the defendant becomes eligible for parole.
A burglary does not necessarily include “breaking and entering.” It requires entering a structure without permission or authority to do so, or surreptitiously remaining (hiding) within a structure while knowing they do not have permission or authority to do so — with intent to commit a crime, such as theft or assault.
It is important to remember the element of “purpose to commit” another criminal offense in the N.J. burglary statutes. A person who entered a structure illegally just to get out of the cold or rain may be guilty only of trespassing, or “unlicensed entry of structures,” a fourth-degree indictable offense.
If a person is charged with burglary and additional crimes (for example, theft, assault, robbery), the merger doctrine becomes a concern.
In criminal law, lesser included offenses generally merge into the greater offense as a single criminal charge. Therefore, a person alleged to have entered a home, slapped someone and taken their wallet should not be charged with theft and assault, since burglary would be charged as a second-degree offense.
But it is not unusual for police and prosecutors to initially file multiple charges to intimidate a burglary defendant. While a grand jury considering a burglary indictment might properly toss out lesser offenses, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can ensure you are protected from such trumped-up charges.
If you face burglary charges in New Jersey, you should not answer questions or make statements to police until you have an attorney present. Without legal advice, it is easy to say something that hurts your case.
The faster the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is engaged to assist you with burglary charges, the sooner one of our attorneys can step in to protect your rights and develop a defense for you.
How We Defend N.J. Residents from Burglary Charges
If you enter a building you have no right to be in to commit a crime, that is burglary in New Jersey. But without the intent to commit the additional crime, entering another person’s property is trespassing.
Prosecutors must prove every element of New Jersey’s legal definition of burglary beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. This includes that the building, or “structure,” was not open to the public and you did not otherwise have permission or authority to enter or remain inside it. And, the prosecution must prove your purpose for being there was to commit a crime.
As your attorneys in a burglary case, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will present a legal defense that challenges the prosecution at every possible turn. If the state does not have a solid case, we will promptly pursue motions to keep the prosecution from moving forward.
First, as your defense lawyers, if you are being held, we will obtain your release from custody. Then we will meet with you to hear your side of the story, and investigate further to determine the legitimacy and strength of the state’s case.
Our investigation may reveal evidence that supports motions to dismiss or reduce charges, or creates a legal defense, such as:
- Police misconduct, like an illegal arrest or search and seizure, or failure to advise of your Miranda rights against self-incrimination
- “Chain of custody” issues with police or the court’s handling of evidence, such as property alleged to have been stolen or a weapon alleged to have been used
- Racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, sexual orientation, or other bias on the part of authorities or witnesses
- An alibi, such as your ability to establish that you were somewhere else when the incident in question allegedly occurred
- Mistaken identity, such as occurs in faulty suspect lineups
- Unreliable or faulty witness testimony
- The property was open to the public at the time of the alleged burglary
- Your genuine belief you had permission to enter the property
- Lack of intent to commit an additional crime (beyond trespass)
- Stress, duress, coercion, inducement by another, etc., which led to entering the premises
- Mental impairment (for example, intoxication, illness) that precluded the ability to form and intent or purpose to commit an additional crime
Because attorneys from our firm have long-standing relationships with prosecutors across the state, we can reach out right away if there is room to negotiate for downgraded or dismissed charges.
In addition to problems with the prosecution’s case, we can sometimes get charges downgraded or dismissed for clients who have a clean record, remorse, and willingness to pay restitution, such as for property damage.
If a trial is necessary in a burglary case, the entire legal team of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can be available to help as we prepare a strong and persuasive defense. If a conviction is unavoidable, again, the professional relationships our attorneys have with local New Jersey prosecutors will help us negotiate a plea bargain with the most favorable sentence available.
An arrest in New Jersey is the start of a lengthy and complex criminal process that does not necessarily end in a finding of guilt or a prison sentence. You have reason to be optimistic when the experienced New Jersey attorneys from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are defending you from burglary charges.
Contact Our New Jersey Burglary Defense Attorneys Today
If you have been arrested or face indictment for burglary in New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall as soon as possible and, in the meantime, exercise your right to remain silent. Our criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge, experience and standing in the New Jersey legal community to protect you from the potentially severe consequences of the charges you face.
Don’t face the severe punishment and lasting harm of a guilty verdict or plea to burglary charges without the solid legal defense a firm like ours can provide. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at any of our nine New Jersey law offices now for a free initial consultation about a legal strategy to protect you.