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Burglary in Worcester County, Massachusetts

Burglary in Worcester

According to Massachusetts laws, burglary in Worcester County is the act of breaking and entering into a dwelling house at night time with the intent to commit a felony. For a Worcester Court to convict a person of burglary, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • Breaking and entering: The prosecution must prove that the accused physically broke into a dwelling or entered into it without the owner's consent. This element includes opening a closed-door but does not include walking through an already open door or other passable openings. Additionally, "entering" means that either the whole or a part of the body, or an instrumentality like a device was inside the building.
  • A dwelling: The location of the alleged crime must be a place used as a residence, home, or sleeping place by a person. It may be an apartment, house, motel room, or tent. It also includes outbuildings attached to or separate from a residence such as a stable, garage, or shed.
  • Entering at night: The alleged breaking and entering must have occurred during the night. Nighttime means the time between one hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise.
  • Entering with the intent to commit a crime: The accused must have decided to commit a crime, and then entered the residence for that purpose. It is irrelevant that the crime was eventually unsuccessful or not completed.

In 2016, there were 2,789 burglaries in Worcester County. The County saw a 28% decrease in the rate of burglaries in 2017, with 2,008 reported burglaries. In 2018, there was a further decline in the number of burglaries with 1,746 reported incidents.

Law enforcement reported 1,538 burglaries in Worcester County in 2019. And as of March 2021, there were 25 reported incidents of burglaries in the County.

What is the Difference Between a Robbery and Burglary in Worcester County, Massachusetts?

Robbery and burglary in Worcester County have different elements. A robbery under Massachusetts laws generally involves the unlawful taking of property through physical force, intimidation, or fear. On the other hand, burglary is the breaking and entering of a dwelling during the night with the intention of committing a felony. Some of the key differences between them include:

  • Theft: Although burglary may involve theft, the defendant needed not to have stolen anything to be charged with the crime. An intention to commit a felony is sufficient. Robbery, on the other hand, must involve theft. The defendant must have taken or attempted to take something from the victim.
  • Force or Fear: Force, whether to get into a building or against a person is not required for a burglary conviction. However, a person must have used force or the threat of it to take something of value from someone else to be guilty of robbery.

How to Beat a Burglary Charge in Worcester County, Massachusetts

Each burglary charge in Worcester County is unique and so are the circumstances surrounding the allegations. However, a lawyer understands the various options available to the accused and can devise a strategy that is tailored to fit those circumstances. These strategies give the accused the best chances of beating the burglary charge.

  • Mistaken identity: A lawyer may argue that the description of the perpetrator is vague and can fit any number of people.
  • Alibi: If the accused was not arrested at the scene of the crime, an alibi is usually the best defense. The lawyer may present witnesses or other evidence that proves that the accused was somewhere other than at the scene of the crime at the time of the offense.
  • Lack of intent: A major element the prosecution must prove to secure a burglary conviction is the intent of the accused to commit theft or another felony. The defense may assert that the accused had no such intent on entering the dwelling.
  • Improper questioning: If the arresting officer failed to read the accused's Miranda rights to them at the time of the arrest, their statements after the arrest may be inadmissible in court. Additionally, any evidence discovered as a result of their answers to those improper questions may be thrown out as well.
  • Owner's consent: This defense may be used if the accused took the properties in question as a result of a reasonable belief that the owner had given them permission to do so. It also applies if the owner of the property had given the defendant consent to enter, for whatever purpose.
  • Illegal search and seizure: A police officer can only search a person or property if they have probable cause or have a search warrant. Any evidence obtained through an illegal search is inadmissible in court.

What are the Degrees of Burglary in Worcester County, Massachusetts?

Burglary in Worcester County is a felony. Some states divide burglaries into various degrees, based on the severity of the crime or the potential for damage or injury. However, Massachusetts law does not expressly divide the crime into degrees. Nonetheless, the penalties for burglary in Worcester County differ depending on the circumstances.

  • Unarmed burglary: This occurs when a person commits the offense of burglary without being armed and without assaulting another person. The penalty for this crime is imprisonment in the state prison for 0 to 20 years. If the offender has been previously convicted of burglary, the minimum punishment is 5 years in state prison.
  • Armed burglary: Committing a burglary while armed with a dangerous weapon or assaulting another person attracts a potential penalty of at least 10 years in state prison. If the dangerous weapon was a firearm, shotgun, rifle, machine gun, the minimum sentence increases to 15 years in state prison. A second or subsequent offense attracts a minimum penalty of 20 years in state prison. The maximum punishment for these crimes is life imprisonment.

Residential Burglary vs Commercial Burglary

In some states, there are two broad types of burglary, residential and commercial. Residential burglary is the crime of entering a home or residence with the intent to commit a crime. It is often called a “home invasion burglary.” The term residence incorporates buildings, vehicles, boats, or any other structure that a person lives or sleeps in. It is irrelevant that there was no one at home at the time of the crime.

On the other hand, a commercial burglary occurs when a person unlawfully enters a commercial structure. Structures that fall within this category include government buildings, public transit facilities, schools, offices, places of worship, and any other place where people engage in business.

However, in Worcester County, these distinctions do not apply. According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section, 1 means dwelling means a place where people are domiciled. This includes tenement houses, dormitories, hotels, apartment houses, boarding houses, institutions, and hospitals, and so on.