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How Kentucky law defines burglary

For many people, the idea of a burglar is someone who breaks into a home for the purpose of stealing things inside of it. While this definition is technically correct as far as it goes, a more detailed look at Kentucky law shows that the crime of burglary can encompass multiple behaviors other than breaking into a home to commit theft.

To begin with, although Kentucky law breaks the crime of burglary down into three categories or “degrees,” all three require the same basic elements: Unlawfully entering into or remaining inside of a building which can include a dwelling or even a plane or a boat if they are used for public transportation; and committing such entry with the intention of committing a crime there

The following are the three categories or degrees and a description of each:Â

  • First-degree burglary involves the possession of explosives or a deadly weapon by any participant in the crime, including – when more than one person is involved – someone who does not participate in the illegal entry. Note that these weapons do not actually have to be used. Possession alone is sufficient. First-degree burglary also includes instances when someone other than a criminal participant is injured or when the burglar uses or threatens to use a dangerous instrument, other than explosives or a deadly weapon, against a nonparticipant in the crime.
  • Second-degree burglary consists of unlawfully entering or remaining in a “dwelling” – meaning, a building or structure where people live.Â
  • Third-degree burglary is similar to second-degree, except that the building entered into is not a dwelling.

Note that Kentucky law includes other crimes that are related to burglary but do not meet the full two-part requirement to actually be a burglary. These crimes include criminal trespass, which consists of unlawfully entering into or remaining in a building without necessarily having the intent of committing a crime there, and possession of burglar’s tools when the circumstances of his or her apprehension indicate beyond a reasonable doubt that the purpose of such possession was to affect a forcible entry or theft.

To protect his or her legal rights and to attempt to secure the best outcome in negotiations or trial, anyone facing a burglary or criminal trespass charge should seek legal representation by an attorney intimately familiar with all of the elements of these crimes as Kentucky law defines them, as well as other aspects of the criminal procedure law in this state.

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