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What is the Difference Between a Burglary and Home Invasion in Maryland?

Some people use the terms burglary and robbery interchangeably. However, they are actually separate and distinct charges with different penalties. Burglary is different from a home invasion, as well. If you have been charged with burglary or a home invasion, it is imperative that you speak with a Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

What is Burglary?

Burglary is when someone enters a building without permission from the owner. It is illegal in Maryland to enter someone’s home or building without permission. If there is an intent to commit a crime, you can be charged with burglary, otherwise it is likely a trespass claim. You can be charged with burglary for breaking into a more than just someone’s home — it can be an office, a store, or any other building. Someone who breaks into a market after hours to steal food could be charged with burglary.

To convict someone of burglary, the court has to prove the defendant entered the building with the intention to commit a crime, like theft; this is regardless of whether or not the person committed the crime, just that the intent was there. Someone who breaks into a home and is scared off by a dog could be convicted of burglary.

In Maryland, potential sentences for burglary can range from a fourth-degree burglary, which is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to three years in prison to a first-degree burglary, which is a felony and can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison if the burglary involves breaking into a dwelling with an intent to commit theft.

Home Invasion in Maryland

Home invasion differs because it usually involves breaking into a dwelling or home that is occupied. A dwelling can be defined as a house, apartment, houseboat, dorm room, an RV, or a hunting camp. Felony home invasion is a first-degree burglary charge and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison if it involves a dwelling and there is an intent to commit a violent crime. The severity of the charge is typically determined by the type of structure, i.e., storehouse or dwelling.

Defenses to Burglary

There may be defenses available in some burglary cases, and they may not apply in a home invasion case. That is typically because the eye-witness is also the alleged victim. A normal burglary often reaches a verdict through evidence like DNA, fingerprints, or video surveillance. With a home invasion, it is the victim’s testimony that results in a conviction.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

Burglary charges can have long-lasting legal consequences and should be taken seriously. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, it can cause problems years down the line. It is important that you protect your rights if you have been charged with a crime. Speaking with a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney at the start is the key to a strong defense. At the Law Office of Robert R. Castro, we have years of experience defending clients accused of burglary or a home invasion. Call our office today to schedule a consultation.