If you are among the thousands of Washington state residents arrested for burglary every year, “stressful” doesn’t even begin to describe your situation. You got arrested for a crime you may not have even committed. Now, your entire future is on the line.
The attorneys at Will & Will understand what you’re feeling. We have worked with countless clients in situations like yours. We know that it’s hard to think about anything else when you’re facing a criminal charge. We also know that the best thing you can do in times like this is to make sure you are as informed as possible before you take your next steps.
This post will help you with that. Below, we explore everything you need to know about burglary charges in Washington state, from the typical residential burglary sentence to the best ways to fight your charge. Keep reading or reach out to Will & Will to learn more.
How Washington State Law Defines Burglary
The first thing you need to know is that there is more than one way to be charged with burglary in Washington. See below to learn the legal definitions of first-degree, second-degree, and residential burglary in Washington state.
First-degree burglary is the most serious burglary-related offense you can be charged with. Under the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.52.025, simply entering a building illegally is not first-degree burglary by itself. For this charge to reach first-degree status, you have to be accused of illegally entering or remaining inside of a building with the intent to commit a crime while either being armed with a deadly weapon or assaulting someone in the process.
Second-degree burglary is somewhat less serious than first-degree burglary, but it is still a severe crime to be charged with. According to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.52.030, this crime occurs when someone illegally enters or remains inside of a building that is not a home while intending to commit a crime therein, often theft but that crime can be almost anything.
Under the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.52.030, you have committed residential burglary if you illegally entered or remained in someone’s home with the intent to commit a crime therein. This charge does not include vehicles or any building that isn’t considered a dwelling.
The law notes that residential burglary is considered more serious than second-degree burglary. That means a residential burglary sentence is likely to be harsher than one for a commercial burglary.
Penalties for Burglary in Washington
In Washington state, each of the three types of burglary charges are felony offenses, meaning you may go to prison if convicted.
Here are the penalties for first-degree, second-degree, and residential burglary in Washington State:
- First-degree burglary. This crime is considered a Class A felony. It is punishable by up to life in prison and $50,000 in fines.
- Second-degree burglary. As a Class B felony, this charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
- Residential burglary. This crime is also a Class B felony, so it is subject to the same penalties as second-degree burglary. However, a residential burglary sentence is likely to be harsher than a second-degree burglary sentence. That’s because lawmakers consider this crime to be more serious.
How to Defend Against a Burglary Charge
From the possible penalties listed above, it’s easy to see why most people charged with burglary want to fight the charge. You have a right to defend yourself against any charge, and this is no time to let that right go by the wayside. The only way to avoid harsh penalties is to build a strong defense.
But how do you do that? In almost every case, the best first step is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can advise you on your overall defense strategy and represent you at every step of the criminal process.
Your lawyer will likely advise you to do the following:
- Remain calm and appear in court (with your lawyer) when required.
- Avoid speaking to the police without your attorney present.
- Gather any evidence that could demonstrate your innocence and/or clear lack of intent.
Meanwhile, your lawyer will review all of the evidence against you, look for holes in the prosecution’s case, and start building a defense strong enough to keep you out of prison if at all possible.
Charged with Burglary? Call Will & Will Today
Whether you’re worrying about a residential burglary sentence or a first-degree burglary charge, you are in a serious situation. And a serious situation often requires serious legal help. That’s exactly what the trusted team at Will & Will can give you.
With decades of experience and countless happy clients behind us, we can act as your legal ally during this process. From talking to police and getting you out of jail to building your defense and fighting for you in court, we have you covered. All you have to do is contact us. Give us a call at 206-209-5585 or contact us online to get started.