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The Difference Between Burglary and Home Invasion in Pennsylvania

We often hear the terms “burglary” and “home invasion” used together to describe a very similar offense. In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably. However, while burglaries tend to encompass home invasions, they are not quite the same thing.

A burglary is when someone unlawfully enters a structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside. A home invasion is very similar but involves a private residence in which the occupants are home during the burglary. Home invasions tend to be treated more harshly than typical burglaries because of the increased risk to people’s safety. Although home invasions are more serious, there is no separate charge, and these charges come under the burglary statute. If you are charged with burglary, an attorney can help you mitigate the charges.

If you are charged with a burglary involving a home invasion, speak to our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys immediately. We can help you fight your charges and hopefully have them reduced or dismissed. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.

How Is a Burglary Different from a Home Invasion in Pennsylvania?

Burglary is a broad criminal charge under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3502, whereas home invasion is a type of burglary that does not constitute a separate criminal charge. In fact, the statute for burglary does not even use the term “home invasion” to describe any aspect of the offense. Contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers immediately if you are charged with a burglary turned home invasion.

This may be a bit surprising since we often talk about home invasions as if they are separate offenses that can be charged instead of other crimes. In reality, there is no statute for home invasion. A home invasion is a burglary in which the residents of the home are present during the burglary. As such, a home invasion is charged as a burglary.

Home invasions involve occupants who happened to be home when a burglary occurred. Each occupant is a victim of a crime, and prosecutors tend to crack down more harshly on these kinds of cases. As such, burglary at an occupied home usually has higher penalties than other burglary charges (e.g., burglary at a warehouse or empty school building). Not only that, but when home invasions go awry, people may get hurt, and defendants may face additional charges for violent crimes.

Is a Home Invasion Treated Differently Than a Burglary in Pennsylvania?

Although there is no criminal charge for a home invasion separate from burglary charges, prosecutors and courts may treat the situation differently. As we discussed above, a home invasion is often treated more seriously than a normal burglary. While a burglary is an offense against property, a home invasion involves people.

A burglary that is also a home invasion may face more aggravating factors than a normal burglary case. Aggravating factors are details that make a defendant’s actions seem worse and increase charges and penalties. A home invasion involves people placed in fear for their safety. This may factor into things like plea agreements and sentencing. For example, it might be harder to negotiate a favorable plea deal with prosecutors if your burglary charges involve a home invasion.

When dealing with aggravating factors in a home invasion, our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys can help you defend yourself and hopefully undermine these factors. Home invasions are often more challenging to deal with, but each defendant is innocent until proven otherwise.

Separate Offenses Related to Home Invasions in Pennsylvania

Another way home invasions are different from ordinary burglaries is that home invasions often involve other crimes committed against occupants of the home. Defendants often do not anticipate anybody being home when they commit a burglary, so the occupants catch them off guard. In such circumstances, it is not unusual for defendants to panic and commit acts of violence against the occupants.

Charges like assault and murder are often connected to home invasion cases. For example, if an occupant fights back against the defendant, the defendant may harm the occupant in order to subdue them. Our Philadelphia burglary defense lawyers can help to fight these charges or arrange plea agreements that reduce the number of counts you face.

Other times, no physical harm befalls the occupant, but the defendant might restrain them or usher them into a separate area to confine them, leading to charges for false imprisonment.

Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys are prepared to assist you not only with burglary charges but any other charges that might be connected to your case. Hopefully, we can work with prosecutors to reduce or drop some of these charges.

Mitigating Home Invasion and Burglary Charges in Pennsylvania

While home invasions tend to present a plethora of aggravating factors, there may be ways to mitigate your case. Mitigating factors are the opposite of aggravating ones. Mitigating factors make you look good and may sway a judge or jury to your side. Our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys can help you highlight your mitigating factors while downplaying aggravating circumstances.

Perhaps you aborted the alleged burglary when you realized people were in the house. In such a case, we can argue that you value the safety of the occupants more than the potential profits from the burglary. Similarly, we can also highlight that you made sure nobody was physically harmed during the incident, further highlighting your value of the occupant’s safety.

We can also help you argue that there was no burglary because you did not intend to commit a crime inside the home. For example, many homes look the same in some neighborhoods, and it can be confusing which home is which. If you went into the wrong house and the startled occupants called the police, the prosecution may be unable to prove you intended to enter that house or commit a crime inside, and they will have trouble proving your charges.

Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help

If you are charged with a burglary that involves home invasion allegations, call our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys for help right away. Home invasion charges are extremely serious and are not met with much sympathy. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case evaluation.