O.C.G.A. Section 17-7-1 defines burglary as without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therien entering or remaining within an occupied, unoccupied or vacant dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another.
In most states, including Georgia, burglary is considered a serious felony offense. A person who is convicted of burglary in Georgia faces between one to twenty years in custody or on probation. For a second or subsequent offense the sentencing range jumps to a range of between five to twenty-five years in custody or on probation.
Without authority means that the person who entered the residence did not have a right or permission to be there. Marriage can be a defense to burglary in scenarios where the marital relationship can be used to establish a right or permission to be inside the dwelling.
Mistake is also defense to burglary in Georgia. For example, if a person entered into another person’s house without permission, but was under the honest impression that it was his house, this mistake could be used as a defense to allegations of burglary.
A person who is not detained inside a dwelling, but who is in recent possession of stolen goods obtained during a burglary can face charges of burglary in Georgia. Recent possession of the stolen goods may be enough to sustain a conviction for burglary. Proof of forced entry is not a requirement of burglary in Georgia.
There is no requirement that the person had the intent to commit theft or another felony at the time they entered the dwelling. The intent can be formed later, after entry is made.
It is not necessary to actually commit a theft or felony to be convicted of burglary. The intent to steal can be inferred from the presence of valuables inside the dwelling and by the lack of any other plausible reason for being on the property.
If you or a loved one has been accused of burglary in Georgia, seek the assistance of an attorney, like a skilled Decatur criminal defense lawyer, as soon as possible.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into burglary.