Residential entry is basically a subset of burglary. Burglary is a serious crime that has some scary stigmas attached to it. Moreover, burglary is a major felony, which is no fun unless you like jail time and hefty fines.
Residential entry is in the same statutory chapter as trespass and burglary, and it requires that a person knowingly or intentionally breaks and enters another person’s dwelling or home. It’s not as serious as burglary, but it still starts as a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and $10,000 fine.
Burglary is when someone commits residential entry with the intent to commit a felony inside. A person who breaks and enters another person’s home with the intent to steal something, hurt someone, or rob them commits burglary. This starts as a Level 5 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Without the additional intent to commit a felony, it’s a plain, old residential entry.
The Legal Reality of Residential Entry Charges
It’s not uncommon for residential entry to be charged alongside other crimes. It’s often added to a burglary charge because it’s easier to prove. It also gives the State a way to discourage breaking into people’s homes without necessarily threatening defendants with the potentially life-shattering consequences of a major felony charge.
Many cases of residential entry have been college kids or young people who have been out celebrating some sort of major life accomplishment, whether it’s graduating, passing medical exams, or landing a new job. What ends up happening is that the person has a little too much fun and goes to the wrong house thinking it’s their own.
So the person wonders why their key isn’t working and starts pounding on the door. Or maybe they find another way in through a window or an unlocked door. They might fall asleep on a stranger’s couch or even start preparing a late night snack. When they’re discovered by the rightful homeowners, everyone’s angry and a little bit confused.
A Well-Rounded Defense Strategy
Remember, if the prosecutor doesn’t think they can prove breaking and entering with the intent to commit a crime (burglary), they will usually charge residential entry—still a Level 6 felony, but not as serious as burglary. Intoxication is not a defense in Indiana, but it can negate the knowingly or intentionally element of residential entry. After all, the State will have a hard time proving that you knowingly entered someone else’s house if the reality is you thought it was your own residence.
Again, intoxication is not a defense, but the Marc Lopez Law Firm has some tricks up its collective sleeves when it comes to fighting criminal charges. If you have questions about residential entry, burglary, or any other criminal charges, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!