New Hampshire Burglary Laws

Basic Definition:

Burglary isn’t necessarily what you think it is. Burglary is basically defined by NH Law (RSA 635:1) as, walking into a building or residence, without permission, with the intent to commit a crime.

What does that mean? Well, it means a few things that you should know, such as:

FIRST, it means that you do not have to be a “burglar” in order to be charged with Burglary. People from all walks of life are charged with Burglary every year and most of them are not professional criminals running around with flashlights, face masks, and black tote bags.

burglary laws in NH

SECOND, it means that you can be charged with Burglary even if you have not “broken into” a place. You do not have to cut holes in a window or slip down the chimney to be arrested for Burglary. You can simply walk through the front door of a place where you are not welcome with the intent to commit a crime and still be charged with Burglary.

THIRD, it means that you can be charged with Burglary even if you have not stolen anything from someone’s home or place of business.

Possible Circumstance Arising to a Burglary Charge:

So, now that you know how loosely NH law defines Burglary, you can see how it is not a difficult crime to be charged with. For instance, we have had cases where:

Non-Theft Burglary

1) Client is arguing with his friend. Friend says get the hell out of my house. You are not welcome here. Client leaves. Client walks back in the house (without his friend’s permission) and pushes him. The police are called and Client is charged with Burglary. Why? Because Client walked into a residence (also called an occupied structure), without permission, with the intent to commit a crime – – the crime being Simple Assault.

Fortunately, we were able to speak with the prosecutor and the case was dropped down to a misdemeanor Trespass, but initially the charge was for a felony Burglary. Again, even though the client did not steal anything, in the eyes of the law, he entered with the intent to commit a crime.

Thus, the intended crime can be anything provided one enters a house or business without permission. Had the client threatened the friend; waved a weapon around; stolen a toaster; etc., the charge of Burglary would still have been brought against the client.

Theft Related Burglary

2) Client walks into a Neighbor # 1’s home. He looks around and sees that no one is home. He sees a nice looking TV on the wall. He figures that no one will miss it. He pulls out a screw driver and removes the TV from the wall and carries it to his house – – – in broad daylight. He thinks that the TV will look lovely over the entertainment center in his living room.

Neighbor # 2 happens to be watering his garden and sees Client walking down the street with a nice plasma TV in his arms. Neighbor #2 looks around and does not see a moving van anywhere in sight. He concludes that Client might be up to something illegal.

Neighbor #2 calls the police. The police go to Client’s house and they ask to look around. Client agrees. The police see the TV leaning up against the wall. Neighbor #1 comes over and identifies the TV as his. Client is charged with Burglary due to the fact that he entered a residence, without permission, with the intent to commit a crime (in this case the crime was Theft).

The last thing you should know is that if a Burglary is committed at night, it can be charged as a Class A felony, carrying a maximum punishment of up to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison. If a Burglary occurs in the day, it is likely to be charged as a Class B felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 3 ½ -7 years in prison.

We realize that this is a lot of information to digest. The good news, however, is now you know a little more about the legal definition of Burglary than you did before you came across our site. If you have any questions about the charge of Burglary, then please feel free to call or e-mail us.

Our telephone number is: 603-595-5525

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