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Understanding Georgia burglary laws

In most states, including Georgia, burglary is often a misunderstood criminal offense. Although similar, burglary is not the same as simple theft. Burglary is more about unlawfully entering a property without permission than it is about taking something that belongs to another.

Burglary classifications

In Georgia, the authorities can charge you with burglary in three ways. These are first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and smash and grab burglary. All these offenses are felonies in the state. Let’s look at each:

  • First-degree burglary involves entering a dwelling or residence without permission to commit theft or a different felony offense.
  • Second-degree burglary involves entering a non-residential building without permission to commit a crime.
  • Smash-and-grab burglary involves entering a retail store with the intent to steal something or damage property.

All three burglary classifications can result in serious penalties.

What are the penalties upon a burglary conviction?

Georgia is one of several states that seek to punish burglary crime defendants as harshly as possible. Some of the consequences upon conviction include:

  • Up to 20 years in prison for first-degree burglary convictions
  • Up to five years in prison for a second-degree burglary conviction
  • Up to 20 years in prison with fines reaching as high as $100,000 for smash and grab convictions

Those with at least four prior convictions will face the full force of the law if convicted again on burglary charges. These defendants should not expect a lenient approach on the part of state prosecutors.

As you can see, it is critical to have a proper defense when arrested for burglary. Often, an experienced defense attorney can help get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed.