Tony McDaniel, a NFL defensive lineman, was charged with burglary on Wednesday in Cobb County.
According to reports, McDaniel entered his girlfriend's home without her consent and left with her cash, car keys, and cellphone.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, it's my responsibility to point out that there are two sides to every story. Just because someone has been accused of a crime does not mean that they are guilty of committing it. Stories get mixed up, and sometimes there are just plain misunderstandings.
I would like to use today's post to better explain the law behind burglary in Georgia. Property Crimes in Georgia are confusing, and people throw around incorrect terms all the time. Property crimes scale from Armed Robbery in Georgia all the way to Theft of Services in Georgia.
Georgia law on burglary in particular has changed a lot over the years, so today, let's take a deep dive on the law behind it.
Burglary in Georgia
Georgia law divides burglary in Georgia into two different degrees.
First-Degree Burglary in Georgia
First-Degree Burglary is defined by Georgia law as:
“When, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he or she enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another.” O.C.G.A. §16-7-1.
So, according to the statute, if a person enters into someone else's home, without their consent or authority, with the intent to commit a felony or a theft, then he is committing first-degree burglary.
To be convicted of first-degree burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person entered a house or other structure that is someone's dwelling. The State must also prove that the accused person had the intention to commit a felony after entering the dwelling.
Most people believe that burglary only applies breaking into a home and stealing something from inside that home. This is incorrect. The statute shows that it is actually any felony. So someone could be charged with burglary in Georgia if they intended to commit rape, kidnapping, or assault after entering the dwelling of another without authority.
Second-Degree Burglary in Georgia
The only difference between first-degree and second-degree burglary is that the structure itself has to be designed for use as the dwelling of another.
For second-degree burglary, the crime is entering any structure - regardless of its use - without authority intending to commit a felony or theft therein.
This could be entering into an office building, storage building, store, or warehouse without authority intending to commit theft.
Penalty for a Burglary Conviction in Georgia
Both degrees of burglary are considered felonies in Georgia. If convicted of burglary in Georgia, the penalty is a period between one to twenty years.