We see it happen or maybe it has even happened to us. We come back to our vehicle in a parking lot and find a smashed window. The packages left in the car are now gone. But what if you are wrongly accused of this crime? Here are some things you may want to know about vehicle burglary in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
What is Vehicle Burglary?
Basically, burglary is a crime of stealth. It is based on secrecy and covert action. In Oklahoma, burglary is defined as an illegal breaking and entering into the property of another with the intent to take something not belonging to you, or to commit another felony inside. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1431
Oklahoma law categorizes penal laws according to the severity of the crime. Vehicle burglary is considered to be burglary in the second degree, which is less serious than burglary in the first degree.
Second-degree burglary is defined as the breaking and entering into a vehicle or any of the following with the intent to steal or commit a felony inside: building, room, booth, tent, railroad car, trailer, vessel, or other structure, including a coin-operated vending machine. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1435
Prosecutorial Elements of Crime
In a criminal case in Oklahoma, the prosecution has the burden to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. If any of these elements are unable to be proven, a defendant will be released and the charges dismissed. Thus, defenses against the crime are based on disproving elements of the crime.
Here are the elements of second degree burglary which include vehicle burglary:
- breaking and
- the vehicle, trailer, vessel, building, room, booth, tent, or railroad car
- of another
- in which property is kept
- with the intent to steal or commit any felony inside.
Defenses: Critical Issues
Under Oklahoma law, breaking and entering is a term of art and many defenses are based on the lack of proof surrounding these elements. For example, if you enter the car with permission, there is no breaking and entering. If you mistakenly believe that this is your car and your key or fob opens the door, there is no breaking and entering.
So, what is breaking and entering? The most obvious way to break and enter someone’s car is to smash a window and reach inside. But using a false key may be enough, as may entering an unlocked car.
The key issue here is permission. If you have permission to enter the car, there is no breaking and entering. Entering a car without permission may be breaking and entering.
In order to be convicted, you must also have the intent called for in the elements of the crime. You must have an intent to steal or to commit another felony inside. Getting in out of the cold doesn’t meet this element.
Saving a child or an animal in a hot car does not meet the element of intent either. But entering the car to steal a laptop or other valuable property would meet the element.
Penalties for Vehicle Burglary
All burglary, whether of the first or second degree, is considered a felony in Oklahoma. Burglary in the second degree is punishable by a prison term of between two and seven years. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1436.
All prison time is hard. If you are facing charges for vehicle burglary in the Stillwater area, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney who can help you build a strong defense. Small facts may be very important in building a defense.
Free Consultation with a Stillwater Lawyer
Wirth Law Office – Stillwater is here to help you when you need it the most.
We offer a free consultation with an experienced Stillwater criminal defense attorney to help you defend your legal rights.
Call 405-673-1600 for a free consultation or submit a question through this website.