We all know the saying that a person’s home is their castle. When we are in our homes, we expect a certain degree of privacy and safety. For this reason, Connecticut law treats home invasion as a much more serious crime than other types of burglary, such as breaking and entering into a business.
Home invasion is the most serious burglary offense under Connecticut law. It is charged as a class A felony. If you are convicted of home invasion, then you will be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years imprisonment, plus a fine of up to $20,000.
If you have been charged with burglary or a related offense, the Sills Law Firm will fight for your rights. We are aggressive advocates for our clients, working hard to help them get the best possible outcome for their case. Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation with a CT home invasion lawyer.
Connecticut Laws on Home Invasion
Home invasion is a type of burglary. A person commits the crime of burglary when they enter a building without permission with the intent to commit a crime inside. Depending on the facts of the crime, a person may be charged with one of four different burglary offenses.
Home invasion is the most serious form of burglary. To convict a person of home invasion, a prosecutor must show:
- That a person entered or remained in an occupied dwelling;
- With the intent to commit a crime;
- They or a co-defendant committed or attempted to commit a felony against a person in the home (such as assault); or
- They were armed with a deadly weapon, explosives, or an object that could be used to cause injury.
For purposes of this law, a dwelling is a building used for lodging purposes, even if a person is not present. It may include a house, RV, hotel room, or even a houseboat. Home invasion is a Class A felony under Connecticut law.
There are three other levels of burglary offenses in Connecticut:
- First-degree burglary is a Class B felony. It occurs when someone unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling at night with the intent to commit a crime. It may also be charged when a person unlawfully enters or remains in any building while armed with a dangerous instrument, explosives, or a deadly weapon, or they intentionally or recklessly injure or attempt to injure someone.
- Second-degree burglary may be charged when a person unlawfully enters or remains in an occupied dwelling with intent to commit a crime. It is a Class C felony.
- Third-degree burglary occurs when an individual unlawfully enters or remains in a building with the intent to commit a crime. It is a Class D felony.
As demonstrated by these definitions, the charge for breaking and entering is largely based on (1) the type of building; (2) whether the building was occupied; (3) whether the individual had any weapons; and (4) if anyone was hurt. Because any class of burglary is a felony offense, it is critical to retain an experienced breaking and entering attorney in CT as soon as possible after being charged with any of these crimes.
Potential Sentences for a Breaking and Entering Conviction in CT
The sentence for a burglary conviction depends on the specific charge. If you are convicted of burglary, you will have a felony criminal record. You will also spend at least 5 years in Connecticut state prison.
The sentences for breaking and entering crimes are as follows:
- Home invasion: Class A felony, punishable by 10 to 25 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000
- First-degree burglary: Class B felony, punishable by 1 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000
- Second-degree burglary: Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Third-degree burglary: Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
It is a separate crime in Connecticut to manufacture or possess burglary tools. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, which may result in a 1-year jail sentence. In addition, there are minimum sentences for committing burglary while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon. If an individual has prior criminal convictions, they may also be charged as a persistent offender, which may increase the sentencing level or result in a mandatory minimum sentence.
Defending Against CT Home Invasion Charges
There are a number of potential defenses to a breaking and entering charge. In some cases, a burglary lawyer in CT can argue that a defendant’s constitutional rights were violated and have some of the evidence suppressed or dismissed. For example, if the police illegally searched your home, then a court may rule that any evidence that they gathered must be kept out of court (suppressed).
A defense in burglary cases often is based on the elements of the crime. In particular, the crime of burglary requires the prosecutor to prove that you intended to commit a crime when you unlawfully entered or remained in a building or dwelling.
A skilled CT home invasion lawyer may be able to argue that you did not have an intent to commit a crime when you entered someone else’s house. For example, if you went to your ex-girlfriend’s house to retrieve some of your belongings, then your attorney may be able to successfully argue that your intent was not to commit a crime. In this situation, your lawyer may be able to have the charge reduced to criminal trespass.
Similarly, a burglary lawyer in CT could argue that the charge should be reduced to a lesser form of burglary based on the type of building, whether it was occupied, or what you did while inside. While a lower-level burglary charge is still a felony offense, it could mean the difference between 1 year and 10+ years in prison.
Given the serious nature of burglary charges, it is vital that you reach out to a CT criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being charged with this crime. Your lawyer can start putting together a strong legal and factual defense, and work to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed whenever possible.
I Ran Away When I Saw that Someone Was Home. Can I Still Be Charged with Burglary?
Yes. If you had an intent to commit a crime when you entered into a building, you can be charged with burglary even if you did not actually commit a crime. Of course, the prosecutor will have to prove that you had an intent to commit a crime. A seasoned CT burglary lawyer may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed by proving that you had no such intent.
A burglary conviction carries the possibility of substantial prison time and hefty fines. Reach out to the Sills Law Firm for a free consultation if you have been charged with any degree of burglary.
Can I Get Accelerated Rehabilitation for a Burglary Charge in CT?
If you have been charged with second or third-degree burglary, then you may be eligible for the accelerated rehabilitation (AR) program. However, getting AR is not automatic. You will need a skilled CT burglary lawyer who can put together documentation and an argument to convince the judge that you should be allowed to participate in the AR program.
If you are accepted into AR, the prosecution of your case will be suspended and the charges will be dismissed if you successfully complete the program. Contact the Sills Law Firm to learn more about eligibility for this program and how we can defend you against burglary charges.
What If the Building I Entered Was Abandoned?
If you break and enter into an abandoned building, then you will likely be charged with theft, rather than burglary. For example, if you go to an abandoned building to steal copper, then you should be charged with theft. If the prosecutor charges you with burglary instead, then your attorney should argue to have the charges reduced.
Getting the charges dropped or reduced can be challenging without an experienced CT criminal defense lawyer. Reach out to the Sills Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team about your burglary or theft charge.
Charged with Home Invasion? We Can Help.
A conviction for burglary can lead to life-changing consequences – including a lengthy prison sentence and steep fines. If you have been charged with home invasion or any form of burglary, you will need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights.
With offices in Hartford and Waterbury, the Sills Law Firm represents clients throughout Connecticut who have been charged with all types of criminal offenses. For each case, we work hard to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a CT home invasion lawyer, give us a call at 860-524-8118 or fill out our online contact form.