Most people have enough sense to refrain from breaking and entering into a house or place of business. Those that do make the bad decision to commit such a trespass normally do so with the intent to steal something of value, such as electronics and money. A State College burglar recently broke into into a closed Subway restaurant and stole approximately $100.00 worth of food and sauces. People probably wonder why someone would break into a restaurant to steal some food. Regrettably, I have represented quite a few Penn State students over the years that have made some bad decisions, and the common denominator in those cases is that the bad decisions were made after having a few too many drinks.
According to an article on the Onward State website, the burglary and theft was caught on surveillance video in the restaurant. If the video shows the face of the burglar, I expect that it will soon be posted on the State College Police Department's website. Given the number of cameras located in downtown State College, the police may also be able to find additional footage if the burglar headed downtown with the spoils of his labor.
Pennsylvania Burglary Conviction Normally Results in Jail Sentence
In this case, because the building that was entered illegally was not "adapted for overnight accommodations," meaning not a place where people sleep, and because no one was present, the Burglary charge would be a second-degree felony under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3502(a)(4). In Pennsylvania, a second-degree felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years incarceration and a $25,000.00 fine. If the person was convicted of the Burglary charge and had no prior criminal record, the burglar is likely to receive a sentence as low as probation, meaning no jail time, but as high as 9 months incarceration. Had the burglary been to a home in which a person was present, then the charge would have been graded as a first-degree felony, and the burglar would be facing a recommended sentence of 1 to 2 years in a state prison. The law clearly places a greater emphasis on the protection of the home in comparison to a business.
Collateral Consequences for a Felony Conviction
While this burglar may be fortunate enough to avoid jail time, the felony conviction would also result in the imposition of collateral consequences. Collateral consequences refer to long term limitations or prohibitions that are in addition to sentences like jail time, completion of community service, license suspension, and payment of costs and fines that are imposed by the judge in the criminal context. For example, a person convicted of a felony charge is often prohibited from receiving government loans, joining the military, and possessing a firearm. If the burglar happened to be a Penn State student, the Office of Student Conduct is likely to impose school sanctions that could result in the student's suspension and removal from school. If the burglar was lucky enough to avoid jail time, he is likely to have a difficult time moving forward when it comes to finding a job. A felony conviction is not the end of the world, but it can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. The best way to try and avoid or minimize the ramifications of a criminal charge is to hire an experienced Penn State criminal defense attorney.