Burglary Sentencing and Penalties

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

After a jury has returned a conviction for burglary, the trial goes back to the judge for the sentencing phase. Judges craft sentences for crimes based on the language of the relevant statutes and the facts of the case. In a burglary case, the degree of the criminal charge will also influence the sentence that a judge imposes.

The following is an overview of burglary sentencing and penalties, including factors considered by the court and hypothetical examples of burglary cases.

Burglary Sentencing Factors

Burglary statutes will generally contain several options for judges to consider when they hand down a sentence. Sometimes the statutes will list several distinct sentences (one year, two years or three years, for example) and may provide a range of years. Statutes could also contain alternative sentences, such as fines and/or restitution.

To select the actual burglary sentence, judges will consider these statutory ranges in addition to any aggravating and mitigating factors that might be present in the case. Aggravating factors are those things surrounding the case that tend to make it a more serious matter, such as the presence of a particularly vulnerable victim or the defendants leadership role in the crime.

Mitigating factors, on the other hand, influence judges to reduce the severity of the sentences they hand down. A defendant's lack of a criminal record and willingness to accept responsibility for the offense are both mitigating factors that will help the defendant argue for a lesser sentence.

Examples of Burglary Penalties

Here's an example of how it all works in practice:

New York has three degrees of burglary: first degree, second degree, and third degree. The possible sentences for a first degree burglary conviction range from one to 25 years. Second degree burglary is subject to a one to 15 year sentence, and judges can set any third degree burglary sentence up to seven years.

A jury has just convicted Doug the Defendant of second degree burglary after he broke into his neighbors house and stole a laptop. The judge could order a sentence anywhere between one and 15 years. The conviction is Doug's first and he has demonstrated genuine contrition. Moreover, the neighbor knows Doug and writes a letter to the judge telling him that Doug is a good person who's just fallen on hard times.

Taking all of these factors into account, the judge decides that an 18-month sentence is appropriate and hands this sentence down to Doug at the end of the sentencing hearing.

Burglary Penalties: Additional Resources

The following resources will help you understand related property crimes and what to expect from hiring a defense attorney.

Learn More About Burglary Sentencing by Speaking With a Defense Lawyer

Whether you're like Doug the Defendant from the example above or the Hamburglar, burglary is a serious crime that can carry lasting consequences. Find out more about how a burglary conviction can impact your criminal record today by contacting a criminal defense attorney in your area.

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