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Burglary in the Second Degree

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa Mar 1, 2020
A burglary is a crime committed when a person(s) breaks and enters a structure with the intention of theft or larceny. Here is the details on a second degree burglary and its repercussions.


In South Dakota, a second degree burglary occurs when a person illegally enters an occupied house with an intention to commit a crime, but does not do so due to unfavorable circumstances. This offense is categorized as a class 3 felony.
Break-in, housebreaking, thievery, are the terms for burglary. A burglary is to enter a structure with an intent to steal or theft. The degrees of burglary are as first, second, third, and fourth, and vary from one state to another. This indicates the severity of the act. The penalties vary with the degree and the state where the burglary has taken place.

Second Degree Burglary

The laws pertaining to second degree burglaries are different in the different states of the US. In a nutshell, the concept can be explained here.
A burglary in the second degree is committed if an individual knowingly enters or remains in a structure without permission, with the purpose of committing theft or a felony, possesses explosives and/or deadly weapons and causes physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime.
Furthermore, if that individual's presence in the building obstructs other person or person's entry or exit, is also a condition for a burglary to be classified as a burglary in the second degree. This event may or may not take place at nighttime to be constituted as a second degree burglary.

Some state-wise definitions


According to section 459 of the CPC (California Penal Code), a burglary in the second degree means, a burglary that is committed in a place, structure or dwelling that is not occupied. The punishment for this is a fine of USD 1,000, and/or imprisonment for about 1 year in a county jail.
Based on the facts of the case and the offender's criminal history, some felonies (like second degree burglaries) may be treated as a wobbler or a misdemeanor.
If the offender is charged for the first time with second degree burglary, the prosecutors consider it as a wobbler or a crime, as the punishment for it is lenient as compared to that of a felony. Conversely, if the offender has previous records of second degree burglary, then this will be treated as a felony and will be sentenced as per the state laws.

New York:

According to the New York Penal Law 140.25(2), second degree burglary is, entering, exiting or remaining in a building, with the intention of committing a crime while carrying an armed weapon, causing bodily harm to any individual who is not a participant of the burglary, using or threatening to use a deadly weapon.
The punishment for this is compulsory minimum term of imprisonment of 5 years up to a maximum 15 years in state prison. Prior convictions, records and willingness to take responsibility for the felony, by the offender, are some of the mitigating factors that have a probable impact on the sentence.


According to section 6-203 of the Maryland Penal Code, a second degree burglary is breaking and entering a storehouse of a person with the intention of theft, arson, or violence.
In the state of Maryland, storehouse means, residential and commercial property, boats, ships, air-crafts, trailers, etc. The punishment is a fine of USD 10,000 and incarceration up to 15 years, or up to 20 years if the intent of the break in was to steal a firearm.


According to section 13-1507 of ARS (Arizona Revised Statutes), a second degree burglary is the act of unlawfully entering or remaining in or on a residential building with the intention of committing theft or any other type of felony crime. Burglary in the second degree, is a punishable offense, of 2 and a half years up to 7 years of imprisonment.

South Carolina:

According to the South Carolina Code 16-11-312, a burglary in the second degree is when a person enters an area without consent, with the intention of committing a crime (theft), carrying deadly weapons or explosives. The punishment for this is imprisonment for not more than 15 years.

New Jersey:

According to N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2b a burglary in the second degree takes place if an individual purposely inflicts or threatens to inflict bodily harm, while or after unlawfully entering an enclosure (here, the accused has to be carrying dangerous explosives or deadly weapons). The punishment for this is a fine of USD 150,000 and a sentence of about 10 years.


According to section 609.582 subdivision 2, a burglary in the second degree occurs when there is an unlawful (forced) break in, entering and remaining in the property (bank, pharmacy) with a tool or a unsafe weapon, and assaults or threatens to assault a person in the property. The penalty is a fine of maximum USD 20,000 or an imprisonment up to 10 years.

Degrees of Burglary

There are four degrees of burglary that are recognized in the US. Depending on where (state/county) the burglary has taken place, and the elements of the burglary, the classification of the burglary and its punishment may vary.

First Degree

Burglary in the first degree depends on where the crime has taken place and who is involved. Theft, breaking and entering, intent of causing harm to the inhabitants of the dwelling, possession of explosives/deadly weapons, violence, being of nuisance value are the key components in the first degree. The penalty is custody of up to 25 years in a state prison.

Second Degree

Burglary in the second degree is a theft that takes place in a commercial establishment, research center, business center or a structure like room, ship, vessel, car, vehicle, plane or any place that is used for or carrying out business. In some states even residential areas also come under this category.

Third Degree

A burglary in the third degree is entering into an inhabited building without a deadly weapon or a firearm, regardless of any intent. New York, Iowa, Alabama, Kentucky, Oregon, and South Carolina are a few states where there are penal codes that apply for a third degree burglary.

Fourth Degree

It is the most uncommon type of burglary. In the case of a fourth degree burglary, the accused, does not have to commit the actual crime of theft, or a break-in.
If an individual is seen on the property of some other person holding a crowbar or any tool that used in the unlawful entry into a house or a building, and he could get charged with burglary in the fourth degree. This type of burglary, is recognized in the state of Maryland, Minnesota. The penalty is a fine up to USD 3,000 and/or custody up to 3 years.

Factors that Determine the Degree of Burglary

Trespass: To gain entry into a vicinity without the consent of the owner/ caretaker of the area is called trespass.

Breaking In: Creating an entry into a building, by forcefully entering a premise or destroying a wall or just simply picking the lock is called breaking. The act of breaking in occurs just before entering.
Forceful Entry: Physical intrusion of any part of the burglar's body into the building just after completing the act of breaking constitutes Entering.

Structure (property): A dwelling that is occupied or not, owned privately or publicly that needs authorization to enter into, office space or piece of land, vehicle of any type comes under the term Structure.
Time of Act: The time at which the burglary has been committed is an important factor in determining the degree of burglary. In some states, burglaries committed during the day are not considered. These states have strong penalties for nighttime burglaries. The period between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise constitutes nighttime.
Intent: The purpose of theft, larceny in the particular property after breaking and entering constitutes Intent.
According to the FBI records, there are about 2.1 million burglaries that take place in the US every year. Taking precautions like double checking your locks, lighting up your residence or office place, investing in good security measures and the most important - calling the police when you come across suspicious behavior.