Welcome to Beerup Law
Ruth Beerup is an experienced St. Charles defense lawyer who is known for getting good results on burglary cases. She has been defending clients' rights for 25 years with skill, knowledge, and unsurpassed negotiating skill. She has handled every type of property crime, including burglary, and offers free consultations. To get her started on protecting your future, use the phone number at the top of the page or the contact form at the bottom.
What Evidence is Needed to Prove Burglary 1st Degree in Missouri?
According to RSMo 569.160, a person commits burglary in the 1st degree when they knowingly enter or remain unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure for the purpose of committing a crime, and, when they are entering the building, in the building, or are fleeing the crime they or another participant in the crime is armed with a deadly weapon, causes or threatens immediate injury to a person not participating in the crime, or a person who is not a participant in the crime is present in the building.
To prove burglary 1st degree in Missouri, the state must show that the defendant knowingly entered or remained unlawfully. Because it is difficult to prove what a person does or does not know, the state can use circumstantial evidence such as forced entry or furtive movements to show that a defendant was aware that they were entering or remaining somewhere they knew they had no right to.
The entry in a burglary charge must be to a building or inhabitable structure. An inhabitable structure is defined in the Code at RSMo 5566.061 (30) to include vehicles, vessels, or structures where people conduct business, gather for business, government, education, religion, entertainment or public transportation, or which is used for the overnight accommodation of people. This usually does not apply to cars, but can in certain cases, and certainly applies to things like campers and RVs.
The intent to commit a crime is usually proven by the fact that the defendant committed a crime, usually stealing, while in the building, but in cases where the defendant was interrupted before a crime was committed circumstantial evidence will suffice. This can be as little as the fact that valuables were present in the building, or that the defendant had a weapon with which to commit violence.
The elements of a burglary 1st degree charge do not have to be present during the entire crime to be relevant. For example, if the defendant steals a deadly weapon during the burglary, or if a non-participant arrives while the burglary is ongoing, the case qualifies as a burglary 1st degree. Additionally, the state does not have to prove that the defendant knew a person was in the building.
Missouri Burglary 1st Degree Sentence
Burglary 1st degree in Missouri is a class B felony punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. This does not, however, mean that a prison sentence is the only option. An experienced defense lawyer can sometimes find mistakes in law enforcement reports to get the case dismissed or, worst-case scenario, win at trial.
Most commonly, a good attorney will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or take advantage of sentencing alternatives. Probation is always an option, usually with an SES or SIS. In both of those cases, a prison sentence will be imposed if probation is not successfully completed. Burglary 1st degree charges are very serious and getting a good outcome is very difficult. If you are facing these charges, it is important to hire an experienced defense attorney with a proven track record.
Getting Burglary Charges Dropped
Burglary 1st degree charges are not easy charges to get dropped, particularly if a weapon or injuries are involved. The best chance for a dismissal is finding a mistake in law enforcement actions or reports, or demonstrating that the elements of the crime are not present.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will know to examine everything that law enforcement has done, even if the case seems open and shut. Police officers occasionally make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes are serious enough that a case is not worth pursuing. This is particularly true if the defendant has not made any self-incriminating statements. Absent a confession or being caught in the act, criminal cases are more difficult to prove than most people think.
Sometimes a burglary isn't actually a burglary, i.e. all of the elements to sustain a burglary charge are not present. This can be because the defendant legitimately thought they had a right to enter the building, or there was no intent to commit a crime. Being accused of a major felony is stressful, and it can be very difficult to present your side of the story in that situation. A skilled defense attorney knows how to get to the real facts of a case and present them in a way that can lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.
The fact is, most burglary 1st degree charges are not going to be dropped. It is a serious crime, law enforcement is going to be careful in their work, and a prosecutor is going to be reluctant to drop a class B felony without some very serious exculpatory evidence. That is when a good lawyer can show their worth. Getting a burglary 1st charge reduced through negotiation to a burglary 2nd or even trespassing gives the court some room to work with in sentencing and can make all the difference between a bad outcome and something that allows you to get your life back on track. If you are facing a serious felony charge, make sure you hire a lawyer who can protect your future. Give Ruth Beerup a call today.