You don’t necessarily have to steal anyone’s property in order to be charged with burglary. Burglary relates simply to breaking and entering with intent to commit a crime, and you could be charged with burglary even if you had no intention of taking something that wasn’t yours.

However, a theft charge can be much more serious — raised to a third-degree or second-degree offense — if a person is accused of breaking into a property or using force to commit theft. Given these distinctions between charges, and how these charges can be combined, it is important in criminal defense to closely scrutinize the evidence to prevent overcharging or a false conviction.

Two young people — one of whom is a juvenile — were recently arrested after what police say was a break-in at a woman’s Bayonne residence. Police were unsure, though, of exactly why the 19-year-old man and the 15-year-old girl allegedly broke into the home. Both teens were charged with burglary, and the 19-year-old faces an additional charge of simple assault.

After police arrived at the home, the 41-year-old woman who lives there told police that she knows the teens, and they had been in the residence earlier in the day. She said that she asked the teens to leave, but they came back not long afterward and kicked open her back door. According to the woman, the 19-year-old male punched her in the face.

Police did not disclose the nature of the relationships between the parties involved. The 19-year-old was taken to jail, and the 15-year-old was placed in a juvenile detention center.

When young people get into legal trouble, it is important that they have a lawyer on their side to look out for their best interests. For more on these matters, please see our recent post on helping teenagers avoid problems with the law.