Under the old "common law," the crime of burglary was defined as a breaking and entering into the dwelling place of another at night with the intent to commit a felony in that dwelling place. Modern burglary laws change several of the elements of this crime and make burglary a much broader offense. Nevada's burglary statute, for example, applies to breaking into cars and even certain instances of shoplifting.
NRS 205.060 defines burglary as the entry, day or night, into any "house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, airplane, glider, boat or railroad car, with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny, assault or battery on any person or any felony, or to obtain money or property by false pretenses."
In other words, a person is guilty of burglary if he enters into any of the listed structures, which include homes, stores, and vehicles, with the intent to commit a theft, an assault or battery, or any felony. Notice that there is no "breaking" required, nor is there a requirement that the offense occur at night.
Looking at how Nevada defines burglary, you can see that shoplifting can be charged as burglary, but only if the prosecution can prove that the shoplifter entered the store with the intent to steal something. If the shoplifter only decided to steal property after entering the store, then the shoplifter cannot be convicted of burglary.
Burglary is a serious offense. In Nevada, burglary is a category B felony, and is punishable by 1 to 10 years in a Nevada prison and a ten thousand dollar fine. Under Nevada's sentencing laws, this means that a person convicted of burglary may be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison, with minimum parole eligibility after 4 years.
Burglary is ordinarily a probationable offense, which means that if a person is convicted of burglary, the judge can sentence the defendant to probation rather than prison. However, if a person has a prior conviction for burglary, the judge cannot grant probation and must sentence the defendant to prison.
I have successfully represented many individuals charged with burglary. If you have been charged with burglary, contact me immediately.
By Michael Pandullo