Burglary is the criminal offense of breaking and entering any dwelling or building illegally with the intent to commit a felony or crime. The Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines burglary as the unlawful entry into a structure such as an apartment, barn, house trailer or ship to commit a felony or theft. To constitute burglary, the entry into the structure may be by forcible entry, unlawful entry without using force, or attempted forcible entry.
Burglary laws vary by state. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, it can be classified into different degrees. Degrees of burglary are defined by each state’s laws.
For example, under New York penal law, the crime of burglary is divided into degrees. Third-degree burglary occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to a commit a crime. Second-degree burglary has the same definition but the burglar is armed, or appears to be armed. The crime also becomes second-degree burglary if another person is injured in the process. First-degree burglary is similar to second-degree burglary except that it may rise to first-degree burglary when the crime occurs in a dwelling.