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Burglary

In the United States, over 2 million burglaries are reported each year. At common law, burglary was a specific offense—the breaking and entering of a person’s home at night with the intent to commit a felony. Most states’ burglary laws today, however, provide for a much broader definition of burglary. Under Maryland’s criminal statutes, burglary is defined as breaking and entering or unlawfully remaining in a building with the intent to commit a crime. The crime does not have to occur at night to constitute burglary. If you enter the dwelling of another with the intent to commit a violent crime, it is considered first-degree burglary, which is a very serious crime with harsh penalties. The following list includes many of the crimes that are considered violent crimes in the state of Maryland:

  • Abduction.

  • Arson in the first degree.

  • Assault in the first degree or with the attempt to commit murder, rape, robbery, or sexual offense in the first or second degree.

  • Carjacking and armed carjacking.

  • Child abuse and child sexual abuse.

  • Kidnapping.

  • Manslaughter (except involuntary manslaughter).

  • Maiming.

  • Mayhem.

  • Murder.

  • Rape.

  • Robbery.

  • Sexual offense in the first or second degree.

  • Use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Burglary has historically been considered a serious felony punishable by harsh penalties because it interferes with the victim’s right to feel secure in his or her own home. The law recognizes varying degrees of burglary, with harsher punishments for the most egregious types, including burglary of a dwelling or with the use of a firearm. According to Maryland law, a dwelling is a building that is intended to be used for overnight occupancy by any person. A storehouse is defined as a building or other structure, watercraft, barn, stable, pier, wharf, building attached to a pier or wharf, storeroom or public building, trailer, aircraft, vessel, or railroad car. A firearm is defined as a handgun, antique firearm, rifle, shotgun, short-barreled shotgun, short-barreled rifle, machine gun, or regulated firearm. The following table outlines the penalties associated with the varying degrees of burglary in Maryland:

Crimes
Type of Structure Entered
Underlying Intent
Type of Charge
Maximum Fine
Maximum Jail Sentence
1st Degree Burglary
Dwelling
Theft or Crime of Violence
Felony
N/A
20 years
2nd Degree Burglary
Storehouse
Theft, Crime of Violence, or Arson
Felony
N/A
15 years
2nd Degree Burglary
Storehouse
Theft of a Firearm
Felony
$10,000
20 years
3rd Degree Burglary
Dwelling
Any Crime
Felony
N/A
10 years
4th Degree Burglary

Storehouse, dwelling, yard, or other area (or possession of burglars’ tools with the intent to enter any of the above)

None
Misdemeanor
N/A
3 years
Burglary to Motor Vehicle
Motor vehicle
Theft
Misdemeanor
N/A
3 years
Burglary with a Destructive Device

Vault, safe, or security depository during the commission of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree burglary

Theft
Felony
N/A
20 years