A review of the law of burglary in Pennsylvania.

Often people say, “my house got robbed!” What the law says is that your house was burglarized. At common law, burglary was defined as unlawful entry into a home or business with the intent to commit any crime inside. Any crime will do, and no breaking is required. If the door is open and you just walk in, its still burglary. However, you must have the intent to commit the crime before you enter the property. If you form the intent to commit the crime after you enter the property, its not burglary, just the crime itself. The two most common types of underlying crimes associated with burglary are theft and rape. Note criminal trespass is a separate crime, often a great defense to burglary, and criminal trespass can not be the underlying crime of burglary, so you are guilty of either burglary or criminal trespass, not both.

In Pennsylvania, burglary has been codified as follows:

§ 3502. Burglary.

(a) Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of burglary if, with the intent to commit a crime therein, the person:

(1) enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present;
(2) enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense no person is present;
(3) enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present; or
(4) enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense no person is present.

(b) Defense.–It is a defense to prosecution for burglary if any of the following exists at the time of the commission of the offense:

(1) The building or structure was abandoned.
(2) The premises are open to the public.
(3) The actor is licensed or privileged to enter.

(c) Grading.–

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), burglary is a felony of the first degree.
(2) As follows:

(i) Except under subparagraph (ii), an offense under subsection (a)(4) is a felony of the second degree.
(ii) If the actor’s intent upon entering the building, structure or portion under subparagraph (i) is to commit theft of a controlled substance or designer drug as those terms are defined in section 2 of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, burglary is a felony of the first degree.

(d) Multiple convictions.–A person may not be sentenced both for burglary and for the offense which it was his intent to commit after the burglarious entry or for an attempt to commit that offense, unless the additional offense constitutes a felony of the first or second degree.

Accordingly, the four categories of burglary are: 1. house with someone home; 2. house with no one home; 3. a business where someone is present; and 4. a business where no one is present.

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