Interviewer: We covered the burglary of a dwelling. Are there any ride-along crimes typically charged with burglary of a dwelling?
Stuart: Sometimes there is a theft crime. There could be larceny, petit larceny or grand larceny. Sometimes there are burglar’s tools, meaning somebody who gets into a house may have a crowbar or something else that he used to get in.
That tool is not normally against the law to carry. However, if you use it to break in, it now has the aspect of becoming a burglar’s tool. That is a misdemeanor, an added crime.
Interviewer: You could be charged with burglary, use of burglary tools, and some kind of larceny or theft; all for the same seeming crime.
Stuart: That is correct. You could be charged even for a trespass technically, also for that same crime.
Interviewer: Are people normally charged that way, where they stack all these separate elements against them? Or is it just a single charge?
Stuart: It is interesting. It usually goes in different manners. From the prosecutor’s point of view, if they charge you with the burglary as well as trespass and petit larceny, in essence, they have charged you one violent felony and two misdemeanors.
If that case goes to trial, from a defense counsel point of view, we have the option of being able to go to a jury and saying, “Don’t find him guilty of the burglary. All he did was trespass.”
There is a lesser charge in there. That is a big difference. From 3-1/2 years, it goes down all the way to one year.
Putting those extra charges in there usually benefits the defense attorney, not the prosecutor. Although they may have those crimes, usually they will only put in the crimes that are also other felonies.
They may put in grand larceny if the amount is high, or something else. Usually, they do not put in some of the misdemeanors when they charge the crime, for that reason.
Interviewer: Yes, but if you charge someone with just a burglary, then there is less for you to have to defend. If you get them off on that charge, then they are totally acquitted. Why wouldn’t they just stack all these charges against you
Stuart: A lot of times when looking at a burglary charge and they believe they have a burglary charge, they don’t want to take the chance of a jury not being able to agree and coming to what we call a compromise verdict.
The compromise verdict is not only non-violent, but it is also non-felony. It is a non-felony misdemeanor when you had a violent felony offense. Sometimes they do not want to take that chance. They rather have all or none.
Sometimes that is what a defense attorney wants also. But sometimes, as I said and depending on the case, we would like the option of a jury coming back and finding us guilty of a misdemeanor crime.