Mississippi Crime of the Week – Burglary

“Burglary” is the breaking and entering of a dwelling house (where someone lives) with the intent to commit a crime inside.  Sounds simple, right?  It’s not.  There are enough permutations of the crime of burglary to keep you and your criminal lawyer guessing for months.  Here are some of the common issues with burglary:

  • “breaking and entering” can be an outer door or an inner door of the dwelling, still burglary
  • you can either break in, or break out, still burglary
  • does not matter if it was day or night, still burglary
  • does not matter whether you had a deadly weapon or not, still burglary
  • does not matter if anyone is home or not, still burglary
  • does not matter if it is the house itself, or an attached garage or shed, still burglary
  • does not matter what crime the prosecution is saying you intended to commit (usually it is theft or grand larceny, but it could be arson, vandalism, or assault against another person), or if the crime is or was a felony or misdemeanor, still burglary

Burglary of a dwelling carries a punishment of imprisonment of not less than three years nor more than 25 years in the penitentiary, and the usual fines, etc., with some variations.

While we’re on burglary, let’s go ahead and discuss some other burglary-related crimes.  Under section 97-17-33 of the Mississippi Code Annotated, it is a crime to break and enter into any shop, store, booth, tent, warehouse, other building or private room or office, water vessel, commercial or pleasure craft, ship, steamboat, flatboat, railroad car, AUTOMOBILE (very common), truck or trailer, with the intent to steal anything or commit a felony inside.  Burglarizing any of these places carries a punishment of up to seven years in the penitentiary.  If you burglarize a church or other established place of worship the punishment doubles to up to 14 years.

If you get caught with “burglar’s tools,” you can be punished by incarceration up to five years in the penitentiary, and if you try to burglarize something using some type of explosive (nitro, C-4, dynamite, gunpowder), then your possible punishment will be explosive as well: not less than five nor more than 40 years in jail.

You may have figured out by now that the crime of burglary occurs when you “enter” something.  You must also enter with the right state of mind (your “intent”).  The prosecution may be able to show that you were there, but can they show when?  And can they show why?  Burglary is not a charge you can handle by yourself, and these are things that you will need to discuss with competent legal counsel.  If you are charged with burglary in Mississippi, give me a call at 601-991-1099.  I am here to help.