Burglary Laws in Georgia

Burglary Laws in Georgia

Burglary Criminal Charges in Georgia

Burglary laws in Georgia usually result in felony charges. If convicted, depending on the type of burglary, punishments typically include years of incarceration and fines.

Burglary is one of the top crimes prosecuted in Cherokee County, Pickens County, and north Georgia in general. As such, local prosecutors are very skilled at prosecuting burglary cases. Prosecutors have numerous specific types of burglary charges that can be used against a person arrested.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program compiles data which states use to create burglary laws. The FBI UCR website refers to burglary as, "To classify an offense as a burglary, the use of force to gain entry need not have occurred. The UCR Program has three subclassifications for burglary: forcible entry, unlawful entry where no force is used, and attempted forcible entry. The UCR definition of “structure” includes an apartment, barn, house trailer, or houseboat when used as a permanent dwelling, office, railroad car (but not automobile), stable, or vessel (i.e., ship)."1

What is Burglary in Georgia?

The elements essential to burglary include (1) unlawfully entering or remaining in a protected structure (2) with intent to commit a crime.

Unlawfully Entering or Remaining in a Protected Structure

Unlawful entry pertains to a person entering or being in, without permission or authority, a residence, building, motor vehicle, boat, rail car, or aircraft.

Unlawful entry applies to a place that is occupied or unoccupied. It is not limited to only entry by force.

Intent to Commit a Crime

The crime of burglary occurs when a person is unlawfully inside of a structure with the intent to commit a theft or other crime. This is applicable whether or not a theft or other crime takes place.

Types of Burglary and Punishments

What is the punishment for burglary in Georgia?

The Statute of Limitation for burglary is four years.

Consequences, punishments, and sentences for burglary vary depending on the specifics of the case. A case could be a misdemeanor or a felony, and result in probation, incarceration, and fines.

Restitution, as allowed for in Georgia O.C.G.A. 17-14-9, allow for burglary victims to pursue financial restitution from a person convicted of committing burglary. Any amount of restitution ordered by the court shall not exceed the victim’s damages. Aditionally, as noted on the Justia website, "Restitution is not synonymous with civil damages. Morrison v. State, 181 Ga. App. 440, 352 S.E.2d 622 (1987)."2

Consequently, anyone convicted of burglary could find themselves facing incarceration, fines and complete financial accountability.

Burglary 1st Degree

A person commits the offense of burglary in the first degree when, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he or she enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another.

A person who commits the offense of burglary in the first degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years.  Upon the second conviction for burglary in the first degree, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two nor more than 20 years.  Upon the third and all subsequent convictions for burglary in the first degree, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 25 years.

Burglary 2nd Degree

A person commits the offense of burglary in the second degree when, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he or she enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant building, structure, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, or aircraft.

A person who commits the offense of burglary in the second degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.  Upon the second and all subsequent convictions for burglary in the second degree, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than eight years.

Upon a fourth and all subsequent convictions for a crime of burglary in any degree, adjudication of guilt or imposition of sentence shall not be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld.

Burglary 3rd Degree

Third degree burglary is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Other Types of Burglary

Smash and Grab Burglary

A person commits the offense of smash and grab burglary when he or she intentionally and without authority enters a retail establishment with the intent to commit a theft and causes damage in excess of $500.00 to such establishment without the owner’s consent.

A person convicted of smash and grab burglary shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two nor more than 20 years, by a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both;  provided, however, that upon a second or subsequent conviction, he or she shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 20 years, by a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both.

Home Invasion

Home Invasion in the First Degree

A person commits the offense of home invasion in the first degree when, without authority and with intent to commit a forcible felony therein and while in possession of a deadly weapon or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury, he or she enters the dwelling house of another while such dwelling house is occupied by any person with authority to be present therein.

A person convicted of the offense of home invasion in the first degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for life or imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years and by a fine of not more than $100,000.00.

Home Invasion in the Second Degree

A person commits the offense of home invasion in the second degree when, without authority and with intent to commit a forcible misdemeanor therein and while in possession of a deadly weapon or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury, he or she enters the dwelling house of another while such dwelling house is occupied by any person with authority to be present therein.

A person convicted of the offense of home invasion in the second degree shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 20 years and by a fine of not more than $100,000.00.

Tools for the Commission of a Crime

A person commits the offense of possession of tools for the commission of crime when he has in his possession any tool, explosive, or other device commonly used in the commission of burglary, theft, or other crime with the intent to make use thereof in the commission of a crime.

A person convicted of the offense of possession of tools for the commission of crime shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.

Theft by Taking

Although related, the charge of Theft by Taking is different than burglary charges. In Georgia, by definition, theft by taking as occurring when a person unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which property is taken or appropriated.

First Offender Prosecution

A person who is a "first offender" can potentially avoid harsh prosection via deferred adjudication. Via Georgia’s first offender program, the accused enters a guilty plea. The accused will then be sentenced, usually (but not alwyas) given probation.

If the accused successfully completes their sentence can receive an order of discharge which effectively dismisses the charges without a record of conviction.

Your burglary defense lawyer can explain this in more detail during your initial consultation.


Burglary charges in Georgia are prosecuted with an eye on tough sentences. If you have been charged with any type of burglary you should contact a defense attorney to discuss your situation.

CREDITS and FOOTNOTES

  • 1 US DoJ, "Burglary", September 21, 2020, Available from FBI UCR Website
  • 2 Justia, "Restitution and Distribution of Profits to Victims of Crimes", April 20, 2022, Available from Justia
  • Photo by KoolShooters, available at Pexels.com