In Massachusetts, you could be charged with burglary if you enter any structure without authorization. If convicted of the charge, you may spend time in jail, pay a fine or face other consequences. However, it’s important to understand that you aren’t guilty of a crime just because the government claims that you did something wrong. What does a prosecutor need to prove?
There must be an unauthorized entry into a structure
It’s critical to understand that burglary occurs whenever you enter a structure without an owner’s consent even if it isn’t a house or office building. This means that you could be charged with burglary for entering a car that doesn’t belong to you or try to enter your friend’s boathouse without permission.
You don’t have to enter by force
A burglary can still occur even if you enter a property through an open door or an unlocked window. A burglary charge may also stick if you achieve a constructive entry, which occurs if you are allowed to occupy a structure using threats of violence or blackmail toward others. Of course, you may assert as part of your criminal defense strategy that a door or window was left open specifically to allow you to get into a home or car.
There needs to be intent
In addition to proving that an unauthorized entry took place, a prosecutor would need to show that you intended to violate the law in some way. For instance, if you were caught in possession of alcohol as a minor, that would be enough to satisfy this element. You could also be charged with burglary if you intended to take something from a home, office building or boathouse even if you didn’t actually leave with anything.
After being charged with a crime, you will be given an opportunity to cast doubt about the accusations made against you. This may be done by having evidence suppressed or disputing witness testimony provided to a jury at trial.