Buying or renting a new home should be a calm and secure situation but can quickly turn awry if an old tenant uses their key to enter your home. This action is a violation of your privacy, but is it third-degree burglary? It might be – and if so, you need a burglary lawyer to overcome any defense they might raise.
Another Crime Must Be Committed for Third-Degree Burglary
Waking up to find another person standing in your home is a scary situation, and the fact that they have a key to the house isn't going to alleviate your concern any more. After all, who knows how often that person has come into your house when you weren't there? If you are missing anything from your home – particularly expensive items – this person may be to blame.
However, simply entering your home does not necessitate third-degree burglary. You have to prove that the person who used their old key entered your home with the intent to commit a crime. The type of crime in this situation is usually theft.
You'll need to showcase that you are missing items and create the idea that the person likely stole them from you. While cases like these often seem like an open-and-shut situation, the old tenant may be able to raise enough reasonable doubt in the jury to get off the hook, particularly if they are charming or know how to work the law.
How the Defense Might Try to Argue It Down Further
The defense is likely going to focus on the fact that the defendant once lived in the same home as you. The idea here is to create the sense that the person was confused or wasn't sure where they were going. Essentially, they are trying to claim that the defendant was too stupid to know what house was his. And while this might seem laughable, it could work if it creates enough reasonable doubt in the jury.
Other burglary defenses include bringing in character witnesses and criminal history to showcase that the person who broke into your house is a good member of society. The idea here is to create doubt about their criminal intent. That element of a burglary case – particularly a third-degree case – is critical and may cause the case to be denied if the jury believes they are honest.
If you are in a tough case like this and are worried about your ability to win, contact a burglary lawyer, like Cheryl Brown Attorney at Law, right away. These specialists will fully understand the law surrounding third-degree burglary and can protect your rights.