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Explaining Washington’s Burglary Laws

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Facing burglary charges in Washington can be a profoundly life-altering experience. The allegations alone can impact personal relationships, employment opportunities, and community standing, even before a case reaches trial.

If you are charged with burglary, it is essential to familiarize yourself with Washington’s burglary laws and the potential consequences of a conviction. Then, reach out to a Tacoma theft attorney who can build a defense in your favor and fight for your side of the story.

Explaining Washington's Burglary Laws

What Is Considered Burglary in Washington?

Burglary in Washington refers to the unauthorized access of property with intent to commit a crime. Merely being found on someone else’s property without permission or proof of authorized entry, regardless of whether any property was stolen, could lead to burglary charges. Due to the nature of this crime, burglary convictions are often accompanied by other charges, including theft or armed robbery.

Washington burglary offenses are classified into different categories or degrees: 

  • First-Degree Burglary: This crime involves entering or unlawfully remaining in a building with the intent to commit a crime while being armed with a deadly weapon or assaulting any person.
  • Second-Degree Burglary: This crime involves entering or unlawfully remaining in any building other than a vehicle or dwelling, with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property.
  • Residential Burglary: Similar to second-degree burglary, this crime specifically pertains to unlawful entry into a dwelling. Given the violation of residential safety and privacy, residential burglary is a more serious offense.
  • Manufacturing/Possession of Burglary Tools: This crime covers the creation or possession of tools designed for burglary, such as lock picks or false keys.

Potential Penalties for Burglary in Washington

If you are convicted of burglary in Washington, the legal repercussions can be substantial. As a Class A felony, first-degree burglary carries the most severe penalties, including potential life imprisonment and fines of up to $50,000. On the other hand, manufacturing and possession of burglary tools is a gross misdemeanor and carries up to one year in jail.

Second-degree burglary and residential burglary are both classified as Class B felonies. These crimes are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000. 

Defenses to Washington Burglary Charges

Formulating a defense against burglary charges requires a nuanced understanding of the law and the circumstances surrounding your case. Depending on your situation, your defense attorney can leverage several strategies to disprove the prosecution’s arguments, such as the following:

  • Proving that you had permission to enter the property
  • Proving that certain pieces of evidence were illegally obtained and are therefore inadmissible in court
  • Demonstrating that there was no intention to commit a crime at the time of unlawful entry

What to Do After a Burglary Arrest

The moments following an arrest for burglary are crucial. In these situations, it is imperative to remain silent. Avoid giving any statements or answering any questions without an attorney present. As soon as possible, request to speak with a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case and plan your next steps.

Professional legal support can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. After your arrest, do not wait to seek help. Schedule a consultation immediately to learn how a Tacoma criminal defense attorney can help.

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