What Does The Prosecution Have To Prove In A Burglary Case?

3 July 2023
 Categories: Law, Blog

Were you arrested for burglary? If the prosecution doesn't prove every element of the crime, your criminal defense attorney can beat the case. Here's what they have to prove.

Unlawful Entry

In a burglary case, the prosecution's first task is to prove unlawful entry. This crucial element establishes that the defendant accessed a structure, dwelling, or building without legal permission.

Unlawful entry can take various forms, including breaking and entering, unauthorized access through open or unlocked doors or windows, or remaining inside a location without authorization. The prosecution may present evidence such as eyewitness testimony, surveillance footage, or physical proof of forced entry to support their claim of unlawful entry.


The prosecution must demonstrate the defendant's intent to commit a crime inside the structure in question. Intent is a critical element in a burglary case, as it distinguishes a mere trespass from a burglary offense.

A burglary charge requires intent to commit a crime, while simply entering without permission is only trespassing. Trespassing is a lesser charge and is usually only a misdemeanor while burglary is usually a felony.

To prove intent, the prosecution often relies on circumstantial evidence, such as the defendant's possession of burglary tools, attempts to conceal their identity or evidence of planning and preparation. The presence of items commonly associated with criminal activity, such as crowbars, masks, or gloves, can strengthen the prosecution's argument of intent.

Presence within the Structure

Another vital element the prosecution must establish is the defendant's presence within the structure at the time of the alleged burglary. The prosecution has to prove the burglar's identity and that it was the defendant and not someone else.

They will present evidence to show that the defendant was physically inside the location where the burglary occurred. This evidence can include eyewitness testimony, surveillance footage, DNA or fingerprint analysis, or any other form of proof that links the defendant to the crime scene.

Criminal Activity

Finally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant engaged in criminal activity while inside the structure. This could involve theft, vandalism, assault, or any other illegal act specified in the charges.

The prosecution will present evidence that demonstrates the defendant's involvement in the alleged criminal activity, such as stolen items found in their possession, damage to property, or statements from witnesses who observed the defendant committing the crime. Proving that the defendant committed a criminal act within the structure is essential for securing a conviction in a burglary case.  

For more info, contact a local company like Larson Latham Huettl Attorneys.