What is burglary in Maryland?

Burglary was originally a common law crime that was defined as the breaking and entering of a dwelling, at night, with the intent to commit a felony therein. While common law burglary still exists in Maryland, the legislature has since codified the crime and divided it by degrees of severity. Burglary still at its core requires a “breaking and entering,” but gone is the nighttime requirement or the requirement that it be a dwelling.

There are four degrees of burglary–First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and Fourth Degree, in decreasing severity. Only Fourth Degree is a misdemeanor–the others are felonies.

First Degree Burglary
This crime in Maryland is defined as the breaking and entering of another person’s dwelling with the intent to commit theft or a crime of violence. This means that at the point the defendant enters the building, the facts must show that the defendant intended to either steal something or commit an additional crime of violence. First degree burglary is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of twenty (20) years incarceration.

Second Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary is essentially the same as first degree, except that it applies to another’s storehouse, not dwelling. It also includes breaking and entering with the intent to commit arson or the intent to steal a firearm. This offense is also a felony and carries a maximum of fifteen (15) years in prison (20 years if intent to steal a firearm).

Third Degree Burglary
Burglary in the third degree is breaking and entering into a house with the intent of committing any additional crime–not just a theft or violent crime. This is a felony that carries a maximum of ten (10) years.

Fourth Degree Burglary
Fourth degree burglary is split into several sections. All of these crimes are misdemeanors and carry a maximum of three years in prison.
1. Simple Breaking and Entering
It is a crime under this statute to break and enter into either a dwelling or storehouse, regardless of any intent or lack of intent to do anything inside the building.
2. Intent to Steal in a Building
A person cannot be inside a storehouse or dwelling or on the nearby property of that building (such as a yard or garden) with the intent to commit a theft.
3. Possession of Burglar’s Tools
While committing a fourth degree burglary, a person cannot possess burglar’s tools with the intent to use those tools.