The Alabama Criminal Code defines burglary as the unlawful entering or the unlawful remaining on property combined with the intent to commit a crime. In Alabama, these charges are classified as either first, second, or third degree burglary. Each classification has its own specific punishment and each requires its own specific elements of the crime.
First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary is the most serious burglary crime in Alabama. The Criminal Codes states:
“a) A person commits the crime of burglary in the first degree if he or she knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling with intent to commit a crime therein, and, if, in effecting entry or while in dwelling or in immediate flight therefrom, the person or another participant in the crime:
(1) Is armed with explosives; or
(2) Causes physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or
(3) In effecting entry, is armed with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or, while in the dwelling or immediate flight from the dwelling, uses or threatens the immediate use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument against another person. The use of or threatened use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument does not include the mere acquisition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument during the burglary.”
The law defines first degree burglary as both entering or remaining in a dwelling with intent to commit a crime while armed. Thus, a person need not break in to be a burglar; it is enough to remain unlawfully on the premises, even if that person was initially on the property lawfully.
Moreover, the burglar must be in a dwelling; if this occurs in a factory or warehouse, then it is not the crime of burglary.
Note that first degree burglary does not require that the burglar intends or commits theft. Also note that first degree burglary carries a hefty sentence as a Class A felony: 10 years to life in prison.
Second Degree Burglary
Alabama criminal law defines second degree burglary as knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit theft or a felony in the building. Unlike first degree burglary that is only relevant if the act committed occurs in a dwelling, second degree only requires a structure, regardless of whether it is a dwelling. As such, breaking into a warehouse or factory can constitute burglary.
Note that second degree burglary is a Class B felony, which is punishable with a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years.
Third Degree Burglary
A person commits the crime of third degree burglary under Alabama law when that person knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit any crime while they are in the building. It is a Class C felony under Alabama law punishable by prison terms ranging from one year to 10 years.
If you are accused of burglary, contact a lawyer familiar with Alabama criminal law. Speak with the law firm of Parkman White, experienced Alabama criminal defense lawyers.