Maryland Burglary Law
Maryland Burglary Attorneys
Burglary offenses, involving breaking and entering, are treated as serious crimes in Maryland. These offenses can be classified into four degrees, with first, second, and third-degree burglary charges resulting in felony convictions. Convictions can lead to penalties such as up to 20 years in prison, fines, and probation. Having a felony conviction on your record can also create challenges in finding employment, obtaining loans, and securing housing. Even fourth-degree burglary, defined as breaking into a building without the intent to commit another crime, carries misdemeanor charges, significant fines, and potential jail time.
By hiring an experienced and licensed burglary attorney in Maryland, you significantly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your burglary case. Our defense attorneys have extensive experience defending clients in complex situations and have established impressive track records of success. Your attorney will guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected and fighting for a fair trial.
Important Definitions Related to Burglary Crimes in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-201 provides definitions for terms used in the state’s burglary laws. A burglar’s tool is described as any device, instrument, or tool designed, adapted, or used to facilitate a burglary. This includes items like bits, jacks, pry bars, crowbars, keys, lock picks, explosive materials, or devices used to breach solid materials.
Firearms are defined to include handguns, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, regulated firearms, and antique firearms. Modified firearms rendered permanently inoperable are not included in this definition.
A storehouse is defined as a building, storeroom, railroad car, vessel, aircraft, trailer, barn, pier, wharf, stable, or watercraft.
First Degree Burglary in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-202 states that breaking and entering into another person’s dwelling with the intent to commit a violent crime or theft constitutes first-degree burglary.
The penalty for first-degree burglary in Maryland is a felony conviction, with imprisonment for up to 20 years.
Second Degree Burglary in Maryland
Criminal code § 6-203 addresses second-degree burglary, which involves breaking and entering a storehouse with the intent to commit arson, a violent crime, or theft. Part (b) of the code specifically prohibits breaking and entering a storehouse with the intent to steal a firearm.
Individuals violating this law face felony convictions and can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. If the intent is to steal a firearm, the penalty is increased to up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Third Degree Burglary in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-204 covers third-degree burglary. This offense involves breaking and entering another person’s dwelling with the intent to commit any crime other than a violent crime or theft. Unlike first-degree burglary, proof of intent to commit a violent crime or theft is not required for third-degree burglary.
Third-degree burglary is a felony offense, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison.
Fourth Degree Burglary in Maryland
Criminal code § 6-205 addresses fourth-degree burglary. It is illegal to break and enter another person’s dwelling or storehouse. Part (c) of the code also makes it illegal to be on or in someone else’s property with the intent to commit theft. Possessing a burglar’s tool with the intent to use it in a burglary is also prohibited.
Fourth-degree burglary is a misdemeanor offense, unlike other degrees of burglary that result in felony charges. Penalties can include imprisonment for up to 3 years.
Determining the appropriate degree of burglary charges can be challenging due to complex circumstances and the need to establish intent. For instance, the distinction between first-degree and fourth-degree burglary relies on proving the intent to steal or commit a violent crime. These nuances require the expertise of a qualified and experienced burglary attorney in Maryland to provide clarity and build a strong defense tailored to your case.
Motor Vehicle Burglary in Maryland
According to Maryland criminal code § 6-206, entering another person’s motor vehicle with the intent to steal the vehicle or any property inside is illegal. Possessing a burglar’s tool with the intent to use it in the commission of motor vehicle burglary is also prohibited.
Violating this law is a misdemeanor offense, with penalties including up to 3 years in prison. The court may also classify the offender as a rogue and vagabond.
Burglary with a Destructive Device in Maryland
Maryland code § 6-207 makes it illegal to attempt to open or open a safe, vault, or other secure repository using a destructive device during the commission of a first, second, or third-degree burglary. A destructive device is defined in code § 4-501 and includes items like pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, poison gas, flamethrowers, missiles, shells, mines, grenades, bombs, and any explosive material combined with a detonating or delivery apparatus.
Burglary with a destructive device is a felony offense, carrying penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
Research Facility Burglary in Maryland
Maryland criminal code § 6-208 prohibits breaking into a research facility without permission to obtain control of property or to alter, damage, deface, eradicate, remove, or destroy research-related property. A research facility is defined as an enclosure, laboratory, pen, pasture, pond, pad, or yard used for research purposes or storage of equipment, prototypes, data, records, and supplies. Research involves serious and studious investigations, examinations, inquiries, or experiments aimed at producing data, technologies, or theories with proprietary, educational, scientific, or governmental applications. Research property includes proprietary information, test results, data, records, research subjects, specimens, samples, and other items relevant to the research.
Burglarizing a research facility is a felony offense, punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
Trespassing Laws in Maryland
Trespassing involves entering private property, such as yards or acreage, but not dwellings or storefronts. Our Maryland burglary defense attorneys are also knowledgeable about trespassing laws. According to criminal code § 6-402, trespassing is prohibited on properties where signs explicitly and conspicuously prohibit it. Signage can include visible signs, paint marks, or other markers complying with the Department of Natural Resources regulations.
Penalties for trespassing in Maryland vary depending on past offenses. First-time offenders face misdemeanor charges and can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
For second-time offenders, the penalty increases to a misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if the second violation occurs within 2 years of the first.
Third-time offenders and subsequent violations are also considered misdemeanors, carrying penalties of up to 1 year in jail and fines of up to $2,500 if committed within 2 years of the previous violation.
Maryland Burglary Statistics
Burglary crime rates in Maryland have consistently declined since the mid-1980s, following a peak between 1975 and 1981. Currently, Maryland experiences just over 600 burglary crimes per 100,000 people annually. Larceny and theft crime rates have also decreased since the mid-1990s but have plateaued at around 2,250 crimes per 100,000 people in recent years. This is significantly lower than the rate of approximately 3,500 per 100,000 observed around 1995.
In 2010, the most recent year with available data, a total of 36,700 breaking and entering crimes were reported in Maryland, the lowest figure since 2005. Motor vehicle thefts occur at roughly half the rate of breaking and entering crimes.
Overall, Maryland’s burglary crime rate falls below the national average. The state reports approximately 6.33 burglaries per 1,000 residents annually, compared to 7 burglaries per 1,000 residents in the United States as a whole.