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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Theft > Does Burglary Require Entering Someone’s Home?

Does Burglary Require Entering Someone’s Home?


Georgia law defines burglary as unlawfully entering or remaining in a protected structure with the intent to commit a crime while inside that structure. For example, if a person enters a store at night after closing with the intent to steal merchandise, that is considered burglary. Even if the suspect never completes the actual theft, it is still burglary once they are inside the store illegally with the intent of committing that crime.

Georgia Man Convicted of Burglary After Kicking Down His Mother’s Door

Even in cases where it is not clear if the defendant actually entered the victim’s property, it is still possible to sustain a burglary conviction if the defendant “breaks the plane of the structure” with the requisite criminal intent. A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Massey v. State, provides a helpful illustration. The defendant in this case lived with his mother. At some point, the relationship between the two deteriorated to the point where the mother obtained a protective order against the defendant.

Two months later, the mother was away from her home when she received a call from her home alarm system company. The company said there was a “problem” at her house. She told the company to call the local police.

Officers went to the mother’s house and discovered that an exterior door was open. More precisely, the door frame had been damaged. Pieces from the door frame were lying on the kitchen floor. Based on this scene, the police surmised that someone had kicked the door in.

Footage taken from security cameras in the mother’s home showed the defendant “standing inside the storm door, jiggling the door knob of the exterior door,” according to court records. Police searched the area and found the defendant standing in the road a few doors down from his mother’s house. Officers placed the defendant under arrest.

Prosecutors ultimately charged the defendant with first-degree burglary, criminal attempt to commit a felony, and criminal trespass. A jury found the defendant guilty on all counts. On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him. The Court of Appeals rejected that argument and affirmed the convictions.

The appellate court noted that simply by breaking the “plane of the structure” with the intent to commit some other crime, the jury could reasonably find the defendant guilty of burglary. Put another way, the state did not necessarily need to prove the defendant actually entered his mother’s house. The evidence showing he kicked in her door was sufficient.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

If you have been arrested on suspicion of committing a crime on someone else’s property, you need to take the matter seriously. Your first step should be to contact a qualified Dunwoody theft lawyer who can review the charges against you and advise you on mounting an appropriate defense. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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