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A primer on Washington's burglary laws

Burglary is a common criminal charge in Washington. Fully understanding what burglary laws entail can be key to mounting a successful criminal defense. Those who fail to know the law and how to fight back against allegations of wrongdoing can leave themselves susceptible to conviction. This, in turn, can lead to prison, fines, and a criminal record that can damage an individual's reputation and make post-conviction life extremely difficult. In hopes of clarifying this area of the law, this week we will look at Washington's laws as they apply to burglary.

Under Washington law, first degree burglary occurs when an individual enters a building, or remains illegally in a building, with the intent to commit a crime against either the property or persons inside that building and, while doing so, uses a deadly weapon or assaults someone within the building. Lesser forms of burglary can occur when deadly weapons are not used and when no one is assaulted. These lesser types are most often seen in the form of breaking into a residence or business to steal.

The law also creates an inference with regard to intent. Here, Washington law states that an individual who is found to have illegally entered or remained within a building shall be presumed to have the intent to commit a crime. This inference can be rebutted, but only upon the presentation of satisfactory evidence.

Fighting back against aggressive prosecutors who are pursuing a burglary charge can be tough, especially considering the law's broad scope. However, defense options are often available. For example, it may be possible to show misidentification or present evidence showing there was a lack of intent to commit a crime. Those facing such allegations may wish to discuss the matter with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them craft compelling legal arguments that seek to protect their interests.

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