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The Difference Between Burglary and Theft

When you think of burglary, you likely conjure images of jewelry thieves cutting into glass cases at night. While burglary is often related to theft, it doesn’t have to be. It refers instead to unlawfully entering property with the intent to commit a felony or to steal. Knowing the difference can help you not only understand the charges brought against you, but help you defend against those charges too. 

Unlawful Entry

Unlawful entry is not the same thing as breaking and entering. If a building is unoccupied but open, the law still considers going into it an unlawful entry. Similarly, if you go onto someone’s property without being invited, that satisfies the unlawful entry part of the definition of burglary. Even if you walk through a open door when no one is home, if the owner didn’t invite you, you have unlawfully entered the premises.

Intent to Commit another Crime

Burglary does require another step, but you don’t just have to steal anything to be found guilty. All it requires is that you intend to commit a felony. So long as you enter uninvited with the intent to commit a felony, you can be found guilty of burglary.

Defending Burglary Charges

Being arrested and charged with burglary does not always mean you are guilty, or will be found guilty. If you were asked to check on your neighbor’s house, you are not unlawfully entering. Similarly, if you can show your intent had nothing to do with committing a felony, you are not guilty of burglary.

Defending yourself against burglary charges is not simple, and you don’t want to go it alone. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands not only the law, but how to establish your defense in court. If you have been charged with burglary, contact Eisenberg Law Offices online at, or at (608)256-8356. We will give you the defense you deserve.