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The elements of burglary in Arkansas

On Behalf of | May 2, 2022 | Criminal Defense

People commonly confuse burglary with theft in Arkansas. Theft can be part of a burglary, but so are other crimes like arson, vandalism, etc. If you are facing a burglary charge, here are the elements that the Arkansas court will consider.

Burglary in Arkansas

According to 2017 Arkansas Code Title 5 Subtitle 4 Chapter 39, burglary is defined as entering or remaining unlawfully in a dwelling with the purpose of committing a felony or misdemeanor therein. In other words, just as soon as you’ve entered or remained in a building or someone else’s property without their permission, you are already halfway through the crime of burglary. Next is intending or actually committing another misdemeanor or a felony.

Elements of burglary in Arkansas

1. Unlawfully entering or remaining in a dwelling – A dwelling is any building or portion thereof which is adapted for overnight accommodation of persons or in which persons regularly do lodging overnight.

2. The purpose of committing a felony or misdemeanor while inside the dwelling – If the prosecutor can prove that you had this intent, it does not matter whether or not you actually committed the crime.

How do prosecutors prove intent?

One way a prosecutor can do this is by showing circumstantial evidence. This could include things like the time of day that the defendant was in the dwelling, whether or not they had a weapon on them, and if they tried to hide their identity.

Another approach for proving intent is through eyewitness testimony. This could be someone who saw you inside the dwelling and can testify about what they saw or heard.

Possible defenses for burglary charges

You didn’t intend to commit a crime: If you can show that you did not enter the dwelling with the purpose of committing a felony or misdemeanor, then you cannot be convicted of burglary. For instance, you can prove to the court that you had a lawful reason for being in the dwelling, like if you were invited inside by the owner.

You were falsely accused: Unfortunately, people can be falsely accused of crimes they didn’t commit. If you have been wrongfully accused of burglary, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help clear your name.

Given that it is a two-in-one crime, burglary carries very harsh consequences. If found guilty, depending on the seriousness of your case, you can spend up to 40 years in prison.