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Burglary in Georgia

Is Burglary a Theft Crime?

Most people associate the crime of Burglary with theft. Burglary can involve theft, but not necessarily as we shall see.


What is Burglary?

Most burglaries are committed in houses. However, this offense can be committed in any structure designed for use as a dwelling or just about any building, railroad car, aircraft, or any room. If you enter any of these places without the owner's authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft in that place, you've committed the crime of Burglary.

If you simply enter someone's house without their authority and you did not commit a theft or felony, at worst you are guilty of criminal trespass, which is a misdemeanor.


Keep in mind that Burglary is a separate and distinct offense from the underlying offense that made it a burglary and not a criminal trespass. For example, if you entered the location and took some property, the theft itself makes an arguably criminal trespass offense into a burglary. You could be tried and sentenced on both the burglary charge and the theft charge. The burglary is a felony while the theft could be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the value of the items taken.

Another example of how a seemingly innocuous act could be a burglary is as follows. Assume a judge has issued a restraining order against you. The order restrains you from contacting your wife. You show up at her residence and go inside. This is a violation of the restraining order. It also means you can be charged with the crime of aggravated stalking, a felony. Because aggravated stalking is a felony, you can now be charged with burglary.

In the two instances above, if convicted of the burglary and the underlying offense, you could be received a prison term on both convictions.


Punishment for Burglary

For a first offense you can receive a sentence of 1-20 years.

For a second offense you can receive a sentence of  2-20 years.

For a third offense you can receive a sentence of 5-20 years.

OCGA § 16-7-1

See also sentencing and probation.

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