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When Is Burglary A Federal Crime?

June 08, 2021

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In most cases, burglary is charged as a state crime. However, as three brothers just found out, there are times when a person may face federal charges. Recently, the three young men first tried to break into gun store in Bethel Park. When the crowbar they used triggered the burglary alarm, all of the men ran away. Two of the brothers then went to the National Armory in Moon Township and tried to break in there, but also ran away when the alarm went off. Now, they have all pleaded guilty to federal burglary charges.

So, when is burglary no longer considered a state crime but a federal crime? What was about this story that made the difference? Below are four instances in which a criminal offense could be charged as a federal crime.

When the Crime Takes Place on Federal Land

Any crime that occurs on federal land is charged as a federal offense, which is why the three men in the recent story are facing federal charges. National parks, federal courthouses, and military bases are just a few examples of federal land.

When the Crime Involves Federal Officers

Any time a criminal offense involves federal officers, it is then considered a federal crime. For example, if a person was committing burglary, even if the property was not considered federal land, but a federal agent saw and made an arrest, it would likely be classified as a federal crime.

When the Defendant Crosses State Lines

In a burglary case, a defendant may live close to a state border. They may also cross that border to burglarize a store on the other side, and then return home. When that is the case, because the defendant crossed state lines, the criminal offense may no longer be considered a state crime and will move to federal jurisdiction.

Penalties for a Federal Burglary Conviction

Generally speaking, the penalties for federal charges are much more serious than state burglary charges. In the above case, the brothers each face up to five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. In the recent case, the brothers may have faced up to ten years in jail if they were convicted of a state crime because the building they broke into was not a residence and not meant for overnight accommodations. Regardless of whether a person is successful with burglarizing a structure, they will still face penalties for the crime if they are convicted.

Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania Today

Regardless of whether you have been charged with a state or federal crime, the consequences are serious if you are convicted. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can prepare a strong defense for your case that will give you the best chance of beating the charges. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys and to learn more.



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