In Tulsa, Oklahoma, state courts there are three different types of felony burglary that are most commonly charged: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree burglary. All charges require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

All Burglary Charges Are Felonies Under Oklahoma Law

What's the difference between first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree burglary? Why am I going to be charged with one as opposed to one of the other two? These are common questions when you've been arrested for burglary. 

In Oklahoma, first-degree burglary is a major crime. It's an 85% crime and carries up to 7 to 20 years in prison for a first-time offense. So, if you're under investigation or if you're charged with either the first, second, or third-degree burglary, you have to know that all three of those crimes are felonies in Oklahoma, and all three of them carry prison time. But, only first-degree burglary is an 85% crime. (An 85% crime requires the convicted to serve at least 85% of their sentence BEFORE they are entitled to consideration for parole, good time credits, early release, discharge, etc.)

First-Degree Burglary in Oklahoma

First-degree burglary in Oklahoma is the breaking and then entering a dwelling of another, in which a human is present, with the intent to commit some crime therein. For a first-degree burglary, you have to break into the home (the dwelling of someone else) with some person being present in that home at the time you break and enter it, with the intention to commit any crime in the home. The crime you intend to commit does not need to be a felony. Any crime will do.

Second-Degree Burglary in Oklahoma 

Second-degree burglary is defined as the breaking and entering of a dwelling house, where no human is present or a commercial building in which property is kept, with the intent to either steal that property or some property therein or commit any felony inside the building. The most common examples of second-degree burglary in Tulsa County are two scenarios: You broke into a home where no one was present with the intent to steal something inside or commit a felony; or, you broke into a commercial building/business with the intent to steal property or commit a felony inside.

The Big Difference Between First and Second Degree Burglary Charges

So, the big difference between first and second degree isn't just that the first degree is an 85% crime and has a greater range of punishment. The real difference between first and second-degree burglary is whether or not someone's home or if it’s a commercial building, as that always qualifies as a second degree because there aren't dwelling houses in these cases; but if you enter an abandoned property without anyone present—you'll still have committed second-degree burglary. Second-degree burglary carries from two to seven years in prison.

Third-Degree Burglary in Oklahoma

Finally, there is burglary in the third degree. Third-degree burglary is defined in Oklahoma as breaking and entering of an automobile, a truck, trailer, or vessel; or another; in which property is kept; with the intent to steal any property in the vehicle, or to commit any felony in or on the vehicle. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, if you break into somebody's car, if it's parked outside their home, or if it's in a parking lot, that's a third-degree burglary. That's a felony in Oklahoma. Third-degree burglary is a serious offense that carries up to five years in prison for a first-time offense.

In short, in first-degree burglary, you're breaking into the dwelling of another when they're at home with the intent to commit any crime in the house. In a second-degree burglary, you're breaking into either a home where no one is present or a commercial building where the property is kept with the intent to either steal some property or commit a felony there. Contrast first and second-degree burglary to third-degree burglary which is breaking into a vehicle or a vessel where the property's kept with the intent to either steal that property or commit some type of felony.

21 O.S. Section 1431 defines first-degree burglary as: "Every person who breaks into and enters the dwelling house of another, in which there is at the time some human being, with intent to commit some crime therein, either:

  1. By forcibly bursting or breaking the wall, or an outer door, window, or shutter of a window of such house or the lock or bolts of such door, or the fastening of such window or shutter; or
  2. By breaking in any other manner, being armed with a dangerous weapon or being assisted or aided by one or more confederates then actually present; or
  3. By unlocking an outer door by means of false keys or by picking the lock thereof, or by lifting a latch or opening a window, is guilty of burglary in the first degree."

21 O.S. Section 1435 defines second-degree burglary as "Every person who breaks and enters the dwelling house of another, in which there is at the time no human being present, or any commercial building or any part of any building, room, booth, tent, railroad car, or other structure or erection in which any property is kept or breaks into or forcibly opens, any coin-operated or vending machine or device with intent to steal any property therein or to commit any felony, is guilty of burglary in the second degree."

21 O.S. Section 1435 (B) defines third-degree burglary as "Every person who breaks and enters any automobile, truck, trailer or vessel of another, in which any property is kept, with intent to steal any property therein or to commit any felony, is guilty of burglary in the third degree."

21 O.S. Section 1439 defines “dwelling house” as:

 A. The term "dwelling house" as used in Section 1431 et seq. of this title, includes every house or edifice, any part of which has usually been occupied by any person lodging therein at night, and any structure joined to and immediately connected with such a house or edifice.

B. The term "dwelling" as used in Section 1438 of this title includes every house, trailer, vessel, apartment, or other premises, any part of which has usually been occupied by a person lodging therein at night and any structure joined to and immediately connected with such house, trailer or apartment.

Ready to Discuss Your Legal Options?

Don't risk losing your freedom to a conviction—let our attorney mount a vigorous defense on your behalf. Contact us today or call 918-384-0850 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

Lee Berlin
Dedicated to defending clients accused of domestic violence, sex & violent crimes throughout eastern Oklahoma