In Oklahoma, many crimes are categorized by degree. The lower the number, the more serious the charge. First degree burglary in Oklahoma is the most serious type of burglary.
If you are facing charges, it is helpful to understand how Oklahoma treats the crime. It is also important that you hire an experienced Tahlequah attorney to help you build a strong defense. Here is what you need to know.
First Degree Burglary In Oklahoma Defined
First degree burglary is defined as an illegal entry by breaking and entering or other means into a dwelling or other structure with the intent to commit a crime inside at a time when another person is in the dwelling in any of the following ways:
- forcibly bursting or breaking a wall, an outer door, window, or shutter of a window; the lock or bolts of a door; or the fastening of a window or shutter;
- breaking in using any other method;
- being armed with a dangerous weapon;
- being assisted or aided by one or more confederates;
- unlocking an outer door by means of false keys or by picking the lock thereof;
- lifting a latch; or
- opening a window.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1431
While this list of ways to illegally break and enter is broad, it does not limit the ways that breaking and entering can occur in a first degree burglary charge. The crux of the breaking and entering is that it is illegal. Even entering with a false key can be deemed to be an illegal breaking and entering.
Breaking and entering also includes any other manner of entry while armed with a dangerous weapon or being assisted by one or more accomplices present at the scene.
Although burglary with the intention to steal something from inside is what is normally considered at the heart of the crime, the requisite intent for first degree burglary is that the defendant entered with the intent to commit any crime inside. Thus, entering with the intent to commit rape, arson, or murder would be enough to satisfy this element.
The crime can be broken down into elements. Therefore, defenses to the crime are grounded in evidence that disproves any or all elements of the crime.
Elements Of First Degree Burglary
The elements of the crime are:
- breaking and
- a dwelling
- of another
- in which a human is present; and
- with the intent to commit some crime therein.
The prosecution has the burden of proving all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, if the prosecutor cannot prove one element of the crime, the case fails.
However, there may be enough grounds to convict for another crime such as second degree burglary in Oklahoma or breaking and entering.
Breaking And Entering: A Lesser Included Offense
Breaking and entering is a lesser included offense in the crime of burglary. Therefore, if the prosecution is unable to prove all the elements of burglary — but is able to prove a breaking and entering — the prosecution will likely reduce the charge to breaking and entering.
Defenses To Explore With Your Attorney
Permission or consent to enter is a defense to an illegal breaking and entering. If a person has permission to enter and opens a window because they accidentally locked themselves out or forgot their key, it may look like a breaking and entering. However, the permission makes the entry legal.
Lack of intent to commit a crime inside is another common defense, although this will usually result in a charge of breaking and entering.
Intent can be difficult to prove. Prosecutors will often use circumstantial evidence, such as what you said or did before or after the alleged crime, to prove intent.
These cases are heavily fact-bound. Even the most trivial of facts may be important to building a strong defense.
Other possible defenses to explore with an attorney include alibi, entrapment, and innocence.
Penalties For Burglary
You could spend 7 to 20 years in prison for first degree burglary. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1436
In addition, as a violent crime, burglary is subject to the 85% rule in Oklahoma. Thus, you must serve 85% of your sentence before you can ask for parole. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 13.1
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you are facing charges for first degree burglary in Oklahoma.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll-free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.