Burglary and Trespassing Laws in Washington State

Burglary is a serious crime that carries severe penalties. If you have been charged with burglary or another breaking and entering offense, experienced legal representation is critical.

When you work with the Campbell Law Firm, I will analyze your situation and explain the nuances of the crime you are charged with and the potential penalties you face. Together, we will craft a well-researched and compelling legal defense designed to minimize the likelihood of a conviction.

Washington Burglary and Trespassing Crimes

Washington’s burglary and trespassing statute, RCW 9A.52, recognizes various burglary- and trespass-related offenses and specifies the penalties for each.

  • Burglary in the first degree occurs when a person “with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein…enters or remains unlawfully in a building and if, in entering or while in the building or in immediate flight therefrom, the actor or another participant in the crime (a) is armed with a deadly weapon, or (b) assaults any person.” Burglary is a class A felony, punishable by life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
  • Residential burglary occurs “if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, the person enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling other than a vehicle.” Residential burglary is a class B felony, punishable by ten years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
  • Burglary in the second degree occurs “if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building other than a vehicle or a dwelling.” Burglary in the second degree is also a class B felony. However, courts generally impose a less severe sentence than for residential burglary because the defendant is not armed and is not burglarizing a home.
  • Possession of burglar tools occurs when a person “who shall make or mend or cause to be made or mended, or have in his or her possession, any engine, machine, tool, false key, pick lock, bit, nippers, or implement adapted, designed, or commonly used for the commission of burglary under circumstances evincing an intent to use or employ, or allow the same to be used or employed in the commission of a burglary, or knowing that the same is intended to be so used.” Possession or burglar tools is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $5,000.
  • Criminal trespass in the first degree occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building. This crime is a gross misdemeanor.
  • Criminal trespass in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon the premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree. This crime is a misdemeanor.

Differences Between Burglary and Trespassing

Burglary and trespassing both involve unlawful entry onto a property. However, there are two primary differences between these crimes.

The first is the state of mind of the person who committed the illegal entry. In cases of burglary, the suspect must have had the intent to commit a crime within the property. In crimes of criminal trespass, the suspect did not intend to commit a crime.

The second difference is the type of property that is illegally entered. To be convicted of burglary, the suspect must illegally enter a building. In cases of trespass, the suspect could be illegally entering a building or illegally entering someone else’s land.

Defenses to Charges of Burglary and Criminal Trespass

Defending against charges of burglary or criminal trespass often involves negating one of the elements of the crime. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, I might be able to argue that you were authorized to be in the building or on the property or that you did not intend to commit a crime.

In other cases, I will identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, present evidence to support what actually occurred, and explain to the jury why reasonable doubt exists as to whether you committed the crime.

I will also address problems with the investigation itself, such as whether your constitutional rights were violated or if the police mishandled evidence.

If you are facing charges of burglary or criminal trespass, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is crucial. The Campbell Law Firm will conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances that led to your arrest, work with the prosecutor to try to negotiate a favorable plea bargain, and, if necessary, defend you at trial.

The Campbell Law Firm: Aggressive Criminal Defense in Northwest Washington

If you have been charged with a crime, the Campbell Law Firm is here to help. As the founder and lead criminal defense attorney at the Campbell Law Firm, I have extensive experience defending people who have been accused of committing a crime in northwest Washington.

I invite you to call (360) 588-4111 to learn more about the Campbell Law Firm and our criminal defense practice. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential, 90-minute consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.

Categories: Criminal Defense