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Burglary is one of the most serious crimes under Ohio law, and those accused can expect the prosecutor to seek the maximum penalties available. If you or a loved one has been accused of burglary, you need to hire the right attorney for your defense.

A conviction can result in many years in jail, so going with an overworked public defender is rarely the best option. At Groth & Associates, our Toledo burglary defense lawyers have helped many people seek a favorable resolution to their criminal case. Contact us today for more information.

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Defined simply, burglary is the act of trespassing in a building to commit some crime. Under the law, it is a greater crime to trespass in a building when there are people actually present or to use a weapon to commit the crime.

The burglary statute is found at Ohio Revised Code § 2911.12. Subsection A makes it a crime for a person to use force, stealth, or deception to trespass in an occupied structure with the purpose to commit a crime when another person is present in the structure. The crime could include assault, sexual assault, or homicide or something as simple as theft.

“Occupied structure” also has a broad meaning under the law and can include:

  • Homes
  • Apartment buildings
  • Office buildings
  • Commercial properties
  • Work sheds
  • Cars
  • Boats
  • Railroad car
  • Aircraft
  • Truck or trailer

Essentially, anything that could act as a dwelling or habitation for a person, or is likely to have a person present, qualifies as an occupied structure.

Examples of burglary include:

  • A person breaking a window to get into someone’s home with the intent of stealing their computer
  • A person pretending to be an inspector with the city to gain access to a woman’s apartment with the intent of assaulting her
  • A member of the cleaning staff who stays past their shift with the intent of stealing money out of the petty cash box

In each example, a person is somewhere they don’t have a right to remain (i.e., trespassing) with the intent to commit a crime.





The penalties will depend on the facts of the case, such as whether someone was in the occupied structure at the time of the defendant’s trespass.

Where there is no person actually present, a defendant is looking at a felony in the third degree if they had an intent to commit a crime. This can carry up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

If someone was present in the occupied structure or home, a defendant is facing a second-degree felony charge. This felony carries as punishment 2-8 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

If the defendant did not have an intent to commit a crime but trespassed on someone’s home, then Subsection B of the burglary statute applies a lesser sentence. The defendant will be charged with a felony in the fourth degree and can face between 6-18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

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Aggravated burglary is a much more serious offense that carries stiffer penalties. It is a felony in the first-degree as laid out in ORC 2911.11.

Someone can be charged with aggravated burglary if another person apart from an accomplice was in the structure and the defendant:

  • Inflicts physical harm or tries to
  • Has a deadly weapon or ordnance on him or under his control

Under the law, a deadly weapon is anything capable of inflicting death and designed or carried as a weapon. Examples include guns, explosive devices, etc.

Examples of aggravated battery include:

  • A person breaking into someone’s home while the owners are asleep and trying to stab them
  • A person using a sawed-off shotgun to break into a person’s home while they are eating dinner

If convicted of a first-degree felony, a defendant is looking at much more serious penalties, including up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.


At Groth & Associates, we will carefully comb through the documentary record to identify the best defenses to bring to a burglary charge. Every case presents unique facts, and there is little point to using off-the-shelf defenses, case after case. Instead, we find the best defenses that are supported by the factual record.

Some defenses we can raise include:

  • Permission to enter the property, which was not secured by deception
  • Lack of intent to commit a crime
  • Mistaken identity—someone else broke into the property
  • Reasonable doubt that the defendant actually entered the occupied structure

In other situations, the structure in question might not actually qualify as an “occupied structure” under the law, so the state’s burglary statute does not apply.

If a defendant has been charged with aggravated burglary, we can argue that he or she did not have possession of control of a deadly weapon. This might get the charges reduced from a first-degree felony to a third-degree one.

There are also some bad defenses that people who represent themselves try to raise. For example, it is not a defense to burglary charge to argue that you failed to actually commit a crime once inside the building. Under the law, an intent to commit the crime is enough.


Toledo has committed public defenders who provide quality defense to many people accused of crimes. Unfortunately, the public defender system is strained beyond its limits, and it is not unusual for defenders to have several dozen cases going at once.

No matter how dedicated the lawyer, it is very difficult for a public defender to provide the kind of individualized defense that our clients receive. Instead, hiring an attorney to focus full-time on your case is the best way to go. Police often make mistakes in burglary cases, and an attorney can use those mistakes to their client’s advantage. Some cases can be dismissed for lack of evidence or for technical errors made by the police.


If you have been arrested or accused of burglary, contact Groth & Associates today. Our team of talented Toledo burglary defense lawyers will spring into action and defend your freedom. Every suspect is presumed innocent until the state presents proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and we hold the state to its burden.

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