Vehicle burglary in Oklahoma is a felony offense. If you are facing charges for vehicle burglary, a good Tahlequah attorney may be able to plead your case down to breaking and entering or criminal trespass. In some cases, your attorney may help get your charges dismissed.
Burglary In Oklahoma
Oklahoma categorizes burglary in the first, second, or third degree. Burglary of all types is a felony in Tahlequah, although the requirements and sentences for each type vary. Vehicle burglary in Oklahoma is third-degree burglary.
What Constitutes Vehicle Burglary?
Third-degree burglary or vehicle burglary is:
- breaking and entering any automobile, truck, trailer, or vessel of another
- in which any property is kept
- with the intent to steal any property inside or
- to commit any felony.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1435
If convicted, you could spend up to five years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1436
Many of the common defenses to vehicle burglary grow out of the legal elements of the crime. Because a prosecutor must prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, attacking the credibility of evidence used by the prosecution to prove any element is the first line of building a strong defense.
Issues To Explore In Building A Defense
In building a defense, small facts often can make a big difference. Attacking the prosecution’s evidence regarding intent, breaking and entering, and even eyewitness identification, are all related to the elements of the crime and can be used to leverage a plea bargain or dismissal. Here are some things you may consider with your attorney.
Intent: A prosecutor must prove the defendant had the specific intent to either steal something from inside the vehicle or to commit another felony inside. Intent can be hard to prove with direct evidence, so prosecutors often use circumstantial evidence instead. This could be a defendant’s statement to a friend about a phone he “found.” Circumstantial evidence may often be weaker evidence and is more subject to attack by an experienced defense lawyer.
Permission and the Issue of Breaking and Entering: In order to obtain a conviction, the entry into the vehicle must have been illegal. Thus, permission or consent to enter the car is a defense. If one had permission from the owner or someone else in charge of the vehicle, there was no illegal breaking and entering.
Insufficient Evidence: Insufficient evidence is a very common defense. This can be raised when there are problems with the level or credibility of the evidence presented by the prosecution. It can also be raised by presenting evidence that directly contradicts the prosecution, such as an alibi.
For example, the prosecution may present eye witness testimony. An alibi can be used to show you were somewhere else when the crime was committed.
What Constitutes Breaking And Entering?
Breaking and entering is a lesser-included offense. For there to be a breaking and entering, the entry must have been made illegally — that is, without permission. Though though many times a car is broken into by smashing a window, an illegal breaking and entering also occurs when a person uses a false key to enter or even when the car door is left unlocked. Permission or lack thereof is important to the legality or illegality of the entry.
Breaking and entering is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. If convicted, you could spend up to a year in jail, pay a fine of up to $500, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 64
Often, when the evidence is insufficient for a finding of vehicle burglary, the case will be pleaded down to breaking and entering.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with vehicle burglary in Oklahoma.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll-free at 1-888-447-7262.
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