Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Rundown of the Law Behind Burglary After String of Georgia Home Invasions

Posted by Richard Lawson | May 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

There have been multiple break-ins and home invasions reported in DeKalb County recently. The most recent home invasion was reported on Thursday morning. Police are starting to believe most of the break-ins can be traced back to the same man.

The suspected man allegedly kicked down the front door of a house in Stone Mountain and left a footprint on the door. The leading evidence to the tie between all the crimes was a set of keys that were reported to have been left behind. 

The keys are allegedly the house keys that were stolen from a Clarkston home that experienced a break-in a few weeks earlier. Police are currently linking a Georgia assault on two women in the same area to the Clarkston break-in to the most recent Stone Mountain break-in on Thursday. 

As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I'd like to focus on the offense of home invasion - legally known as burglary in Georgia.

What constitutes the offense of burglary in Georgia?

Burglary is a felony no matter what in Georgia. However, the Georgia Code divides burglary in Georgia into two different degrees. 

1) First-Degree Burglary in Georgia

Georgia Law defines First-Degree Burglary 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.  

To dissect the statute, let's make it simple. If a person enters into someone else's home, without their consent and with the intent to commit a felony or a theft, then he to she is committing first-degree burglary. 

In order to be found guilty of first-degree burglary, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person entered a house or some other structure that is someone's dwelling. On top of that, the State must also prove that the accused person had the intention to commit a felony after entering the dwelling. 

Burglary does not mean only theft:

There is popularly-held misconception that associates burglary with theft. However, to be charged with burglary, a person does not need to either commit or attempt to commit a theft. It is unlawful in Georgia to enter the dwelling house of another with the intent to commit a felony therein (or theft). So for example:

  • If someone breaks into a house and commits rape, or sexual assault, they will be charged with the sexual offense and burglary. 
  • If someones enters into someone's home and takes a family hostage, he or she will be charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and burglary. 
  • If someone breaks into a home and points a gun at someone, they will be charged with aggravated assault and burglary. 
  • If someone breaks into a home and criminally injures someone to the extent that they lose the use of a member of their body or they are disfigured, they will be charged with aggravated battery and burglary. 

2) 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 with first-degree burglary.

For second-degree burglary, the crime is entering any structure - it does not have to be a dwelling - without authority intending to commit a felony or theft therein. Some examples are: office building, storage building, store, or warehouse. 

What is the penalty if convicted of burglary in Georgia?

As I mentioned earlier, both degrees of burglary are classified as felonies in Georgia. If convicted of burglary in Georgia, the penalty is a period of imprisonment of anywhere from one to twenty years.

Burglary Defenses

Burglary is a serious offense. Burglary is also a legally complicated offense, but there are applicable Georgia Criminal Defenses that can be used.

A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney will know to look into the following defenses:

  • Lack of intent to commit a felony
  • Presence of consent to enter the property in question
  • Voluntary intoxication in Georgia
  • Breaking in but not actually entering the property

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, contact our offices today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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