Wait a minute, I didn’t steal anything – – So why am I being charged with Burglary??

One question that is often asked by individuals consulting with our office when recently arrested for a crime has to do with the crime of Burglary.  Many people simply do not understand why they are booked on charges which include burglary.  Many people think that if they haven’t broken into a home or business, they can’t, or shouldn’t, be charged with the serious crime of Burglary.  This reaction is a natural one, given that when people hear the term “Burglar” they often get a mental image of the Hollywood cat burglar, clothed in all black, breaking into a business with a crowbar and sneaking out the back door with a shiny new television.  In Nevada however, there are literally thousands of different factual circumstances which amount to Burglary.

In Nevada, Burglary laws are contained in Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) Chapter 205, which covers “Crimes Against Property” and are specifically defined in NRS 205.060.  In contrast to the limited example of the cat burglar above, Nevada defines Burglary as occurring when someone enters any structure (such as a business, store, apartment, residence, home, house, room or a vehicle such as a car or truck) when the person entering has the intent to commit any of the following inside: larceny, assault, battery, obtaining money or property under false pretenses or any other felony.  Such a crime has serious consequences — Burglary is a category “B” Felony carrying the potential of 1-10 years in prison and a fine up to and including $10,000.00.

In Nevada, this definition of Burglary means that people can be arrested or charged for Burglary even if they have never broken into a business or residence and have never stolen anything.  Oftentimes, when a different crime occurs inside a building or vehicle, the District Attorney will charge Burglary as a “tack on” charge with the other offense.  Unfortunately, the tacked on charge of Burglary is quite often more serious than the other crime.  In Las Vegas, the Clark County District Attorney will quite frequently use this charging tactic.  For example, an individual can be charged with possessing a stolen car, even if they didn’t steal the car.  In that circumstance, the State will often charge Burglary in addition to possession of a stolen vehicle, because the driver of the stolen vehicle entered the car in order to possess it.  Other common examples are where someone enters a pawn store to pawn an item that isn’t theirs.  They can be charged with Burglary for entering the pawn shop.  Likewise, an individual can enter a business to cash a forged check.  In that case, the State will file Burglary charges in addition to any charges for the forgery of the check because the person walked into the bank to cash it.  In one of the most glaring examples of this type of charging, assume someone enters a gas station with the intent to steal a single pack of gum.  Even if they never get away with a $0.99 pack of gum, they person can be arrested and charged with the “B” Felony crime of Burglary.

Despite the preconceived notions that people may have about the crime of Burglary, as you can see there are countless ways in which an individual, even a first time offender who meant no physical harm or great financial loss to the alleged victim, can be charged with a severe Felony carrying significant prison time.

If you, or someone you know, have questions about the crime of Burglary, or any other criminal law matter in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Nevada, Contact attorney Josh Tomsheck at the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck.  Mr. Tomsheck he a Nationally Board Certified Criminal Trial Specialist recognized by the State Bar of Nevada as a Specialist in Criminal Trial Law.  We would be more than happy to discuss your situation with you and are passionate about helping our clients put the difficult times in their life behind them with as little lasting consequence as possible.