Many people are confused about the difference between robbery and burglary, thinking every act of theft is robbery. However, there are very clear differences between robbery, which is considered a crime against the person, and burglary, which is typically a property crime. Robbery uses force, fear, or intimidation against a person in order to commit theft. Burglary, on the other hand, involves illegally entering a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime.

In Oklahoma, there are several different charges a person may face if accused of burglary or a burglary-related crime. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand the nature of the charge or charges against you and can work to build the strongest defense against a burglary charge.

First Degree Burglary

Burglary in the First Degree (21 O.S. § 1431) is the most serious burglary offense under Oklahoma law. It is defined as breaking into and entering “the dwelling house of another, in which there is at the time some human being, with intent to commit some crime therein.” While people typically think of burglary as breaking and entering with the intent to commit theft, state law explicitly states that first degree burglary is breaking into an occupied home with the intent to commit any crime.

By law, “breaking and entering” in an act of first degree burglary does not necessarily require force. It may be accomplished in any of the following ways:

  1. By forcibly bursting or breaking the wall, or an outer door, window, or shutter of a window of such house or the lock or bolts of such door, or the fastening of such window or shutter; or
  2. By breaking in any other manner, being armed with a dangerous weapon or being assisted or aided by one or more confederates then actually present; or
  3. By unlocking an outer door by means of false keys or by picking the lock thereof, or by lifting a latch or opening a window, is guilty of burglary in the first degree.

Because first degree burglary involves home invasion, it is considered a violent felony, and it is listed among Oklahoma’s “85 Percent Crimes” in 22 O.S. § 13.1. The sentence for conviction of first degree burglary is 7 to 20 years in prison, and a person convicted must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before achieving parole eligibility.

Second Degree Burglary

Burglary in the second degree is a lesser offense than first degree burglary, but it nonetheless carries the potential for heavy penalties. It involves breaking and entering into any building, room, vehicle, or structure—including a coin-operated or vending machine—with the intent to steal or commit another felony.  Like first degree burglary, second degree burglary is a felony. However, because the act does not involve home invasion or the presence of another individual inside the burglarized structure, it is not considered a violent felony subject to the 85 percent rule.

The potential sentence for conviction of second degree burglary is 2 to 7 years in prison.

Breaking and Entering

Oklahoma law provides a catch-all statute to penalize acts of breaking and entering that fall short of burglary. This statute, in 21 O.S. § 1438, prohibits “entering with intent to commit a felony, larceny, or malicious mischief” and breaking and entering without the permission of the owner, albeit without any intent to commit another crime.

In both cases, breaking and entering is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail.

Possession of Implements of Burglary

Possessing the tools of burglary—including “pick-lock, crow, key, bit, jack, jimmy, nippers, pick, betty or other implement of burglary”—with the intent to use them to break into any structure is a misdemeanor.

However, if a person has a prior conviction for burglary, it is a felony to possess certain combinations of tools which are often used to facilitate burglary.  According to 21 O.S. § 1442, it is a felony for any person convicted of burglary to have in his or her possession or to transport “any combination of three (3) or more of the following tools: Sledge hammer, pry bar, punches, chisel, bolt cutters” with the intent to use them in the commission of a crime or with the knowledge that they may be used in the commission of a crime.

Oklahoma Burglary Defense

If you are charged with burglary or breaking and entering in Oklahoma, contact Coventon Criminal Defense for a free consultation about your case. Call today or submit our confidential online case review form to get started.