Posted on: 6 June 2017
As a parent, few things are as devastating as learning that your kid was caught burglarizing an apartment. However, just because they were caught doesn't mean that they are guilty and that they will be automatically convicted. Depending on the circumstances of the event, there are a few affirmative defenses that may help the young one. For example, the young one may escape the charges by proving that:
They Believed They Had the Owner's Consent
Burglary involves unauthorized entry into another person's property. Therefore, your kid cannot be convicted of burglary if they had the owner's consent to access the said property. In fact, this is true even if the young one was mistaken in believing that they had the owner's consent.
Consider an example where a neighbor asks your teenage child to keep an eye in their apartment while the neighbor is away. If the neighbor accuses the child of burglary several weeks after their return, then the child can use the defense of implied consent if they believed that the previous request from the neighbor constituted an ongoing relationship.
They Did Not Intend to Burglarize the House
Merely wandering on encroaching on another person's property doesn't constitute burglary; there must be an intention to steal something from the property. Therefore, the child can also escape burglary charges if the child did not intend to steal anything.
Lack of intent doesn't automatically mean innocence; your child may still face other charges such as trespass. For example, if your kid breaks into a neighbor's house to admire the neighbor's card collection, they can defeat the burglary charge if they can prove that they never intended to steal the cards (or anything else from the house). However, they can still be convicted of unlawful entry or trespassing.
They Did Not Enter Any Building or Structure
Burglary laws are constructed at the state level. In many states, burglary involves breaking into a building or occupied structure. Therefore, if that is the definition used in your state, then the young one can escape burglary charges if they can prove that they didn't get inside the building or structure. For example, it would be difficult to convict your kid of burglary if they merely passed through an unlocked gate to retrieve their ball that had fallen over the fence. However, they can be charged with burglary if they entered any structure in the compound, such as a tool shed or garage, while retrieving the ball.
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