Laws on Burglary in Indiana
It’s common for people to confuse the criminal offenses of burglary, robbery, and theft. Therefore, this article will concentrate on the Indiana burglary laws and the potential penalties for those convicted of this crime. Generally, the offense of burglary in Indiana refers to incidents where an individual enters a dwelling, without permission, with the intent to commit a crime. This differs from robbery in that burglary doesn’t include the offender using force, violence, or intimidation to commit the crime. Furthermore, acts of burglary must include an element of trespassing or breaking and entering, whereas Indiana theft laws define theft as the act of simply taking property without consent and with the intent to deprive another person of that property.
While these criminal offenses are clearly distinct from one another, it’s important to note that charges of theft, robbery, and burglary in Indiana can be stacked together as part of a single criminal investigation. For example, let’s say a person breaks into a home with the intent to steal valuables. Once inside, the person discovers that the homeowner is present and demands that they hand over their cash and jewelry. The person uses physical force to take the items from the homeowner and then flees the scene. In this scenario, the person could be charged with:
- Burglary: for breaking into the home with the intent to commit theft
- Theft: for stealing the cash and jewelry from the homeowner
- Robbery: for using force to take the items from the homeowner
The severity of the charges and the corresponding penalties would depend on the specific circumstances of the case, such as the value of the stolen items and the extent of the force used. However, the person could potentially face significant prison time and fines if convicted on all three charges.
If you’ve been charged with burglary in Indiana, you’re probably feeling stressed right now. In situations like these, the best thing you can do is hire a criminal defense attorney in Indiana to help you manage the criminal justice process and best respond to the charges brought against you.
Keffer Hirschauer LLP employs a team of experienced and skilled former deputy prosecutors who stand ready to work towards the best possible outcome in the case against you. Working with one of our Indiana defense attorneys assures that you are doing all that you can to defend yourself against these charges, whether your decision is to fight the charges, get them reduced, or make a case for leniency. To speak with an attorney today call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Definition of Burglary in Indiana Code
The Indiana burglary laws are located in Indiana Code 35-43-2-1, which describes the offense as “knowingly or intentionally breaking and entering into a dwelling, structure, or conveyance of another person with the intent to commit a felony or theft.” For the purpose of this law, Indiana criminal code further defines the word “dwelling” as a building or part of a building that is designed for use as a residence; while a “structure” includes any building or facility other than a dwelling. Furthermore, the word “conveyance” relates to any sort of motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or other means of transportation.
At its lowest level, burglary in Indiana is considered a Level 5 felony. However, like many other crimes, enhancing circumstances do apply. This means that, depending on the type of structure that was burglarized and the events that occurred during the time of the offense, a person could face up to a Level 1 felony offense.
For context, Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-292 defines “serious bodily injury,” as a bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death; causes serious permanent disfigurement; causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; causes a bone fracture; or results in the loss of a fetus. In addition, Indiana Code 35-31.5-2-86 describes a “deadly weapon” as a loaded or unloaded firearm, an animal readily capable of causing serious bodily injury, or any destructive device, weapon, taste or electronic stun weapon, equipment, chemical substance, or other material that is used, could be used, or is intended to be used to cause serious bodily injury.
Penalties for Burglary in Indiana
If found in violation of the Indiana burglary laws, a person can be charged with either a Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 felony, with a Level 1 felony being the most serious. Per the Indiana sentencing guidelines, a Level 5 felony (the lowest level charge for burglary) is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. However, if the offense was committed upon a dwelling and resulted in the bodily injury of another person, the offender could be charged with a Level 1 felony in Indiana, a very serious felony classification in Indiana, second only to murder. If found guilty of a Level 1 felony, the offender would face up to 40 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Stacked Charges for Burglary and Other Crimes
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s not uncommon for a burglary charge in Indiana to be stacked alongside other criminal charges. This could include but is not limited to offenses like theft, battery, robbery, drug crimes, or gun crimes. For instance, consider a scenario where a person breaks into a convenience store in the middle of the night, well after the store has closed. They proceed to empty $650 from the cash register. However, as the person is leaving, the store manager shows up and attempts to stop them. To escape, the person then stabs the manager multiple times with a knife and flees the scene of the crime. The manager is taken to the hospital where he is placed in Intensive Care due to a substantial loss of blood and permanent damage to internal organs. The offender is arrested several hours later by police.
In a situation like the one described above the offender could be charged with a Level 2 felony for burglary in Indiana. This is because the offense was committed with a deadly weapon and caused serious bodily injury to the store manager. In addition, the offender could be charged with a Level 6 felony for theft for taking the $650 and a Level 2 felony for robbery resulting in bodily injury while armed with a deadly weapon.
Given the severity of these criminal charges, especially when stacked alongside other charges, it’s vital that anyone charged with burglary in Indiana speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can help you understand how specific circumstances related to the offense may affect the seriousness of the charges made against you. They could also help you build a sound defense with the stated goal of reducing the charges and minimizing your criminal penalties.
Collateral Consequences and Expungement
It’s vital to understand that the sheer existence of a criminal record in Indiana can create a massive burden in one’s life. Even after successfully completing their sentence, past offenders find themselves having to explain their criminal past to prospective employers, landlords, lenders, and other; complicating otherwise normal everyday activities like applying for a job, a car loan, or simply trying to move into a new apartment. Furthermore, those convicted of felony offenses are stripped of several, critical civil rights, including:
- The Right to Own and Carry a Firearm
- The Right to Run for Public Office
- The Right to Serve on a Jury
- The Right to Vote
Thankfully, Indiana’s expungement law could give past offenders the opportunity to move forward with their lives by offering them the chance to request that the court seals any records related to most arrests, charges, or convictions. If granted, their past conviction(s) would not show up in public records databases, and when asked if they have a criminal record, the past offender could truthfully and legally answer, “no.” In addition, under most circumstances, Indiana expungement would restore a past felon’s civil rights, once again allowing them to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and possess a firearm.
Don’t let your past conviction for burglary in Indiana prevent you from starting a new chapter in your life. Contact the Indiana expungement lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today by calling 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have an entire team devoted to helping guide Hoosiers through the Indiana expungement process in a precise and timely manner. Plus, we offer a money-back guarantee on qualifying expungement services—a win-win for those clients!
Questions about Burglary in Indiana?
If you have questions about burglary in Indiana or have already been charged under the Indiana burglary laws, you can feel confident partnering with a defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
As former deputy prosecutors, our attorneys have extensive experience working both sides of a criminal case; they truly understand how the prosecution thinks and can adequately anticipate the strategies they may pursue in court. Given this, with an attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP by your side, you’ll have a stronger chance of having the charges placed against you reduced or dismissed completely. To speak with a defense attorney today, call 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation.