When you think about the crime of home invasion, you probably picture a violent act – or something that involves breaking into someone’s house when they aren’t home to rob them. Michiganders are often shocked to learn that there is a whole range of conduct that could be prosecuted as a home invasion in our state. The most serious type, first-degree home invasion, is punishable by a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine and includes acts that you may not expect.
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The common element to all home invasion charges is some form of illegal entry or presence in someone else’s dwelling, without their consent or permission. Even if you don’t use any type of force or violence, you could still be charged with home invasion – and be sentenced to serious jail time and steep fines if you are convicted.
There are a number of possible defenses to a Michigan home invasion charge. If you are facing criminal charges, a Traverse City home invasion lawyer will fight for your rights and your freedom. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.
When Can You Be Charged with Home Invasion in Michigan?
Under Michigan law, home invaders may be charged with home invasion when they break and enter a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. It may also be charged when a person enters a dwelling without permission and commits a crime while entering, exiting, or present in the dwelling.
Under this law, a dwelling includes any structure or shelter that is used as a place of abode or living. This crime is different from breaking and entering, which involves a structure other than a home – such as a factory, store, or barn.
Home invasion is categorized by degree, from most serious (1st degree home invasion) to least serious (3rd degree home invasion). The common element to all three degrees of home invasion is some type of illegal entry or presence—either forceful or without permission—to another’s dwelling. The main difference between the three offenses is what a person does or intends to do once inside someone else’s home.
While each of these offenses has similar elements, each requires proof of specific facts:
- Home invasion 1st degree: breaking and entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling, while either (a) being armed with a dangerous weapon; or (b) another person is lawfully present.
- Home invasion 2nd degree: breaking and entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling.
- Home invasion 3rd degree: breaking and entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit a misdemeanor in the dwelling, OR breaking and entering into a dwelling while violating a probation or parole term or condition, a bail or bond condition, or a personal protection order term or condition.
Home invasion in the 1st and 2nd degrees are felony offenses, while home invasion in the 3rd degree is a misdemeanor charge. All offenses are punishable by a term in prison and a fine.
Home invasion sounds like a scary crime – and it is! However, you may be surprised to learn that a person could be charged with an offense like this for conduct that doesn’t seem that serious.
When most people think of “first-degree home invasion,” they are imagining violent scenes of masked, armed intruders kicking through the door in the middle of the night in a mad dash for the family safe. While that scenario certainly satisfies the elements of the law, there is a great deal of other behavior that can also end up charged as a first-degree home invasion. For example, in Leelanau County, a person was charged with first-degree home invasion for stealing a beer from a neighbor’s garage refrigerator while his wife was in the home.
The 86th District Court Grand Traverse County has found that drunkenly wandering into a stranger’s home and eating a bag of potato chips was enough to bind someone over for trial for home invasion first degree. The same court determined that opening a screen door to save a fiancé who looked like she was overdosing on drugs and fending off the homeowner suspected of feeding those drugs to her qualified as a first-degree home invasion.
While these cases may seem funny (or unbelievable), they are real-life occurrences that have affected people in Michigan. If you have been charged with first, second, or third-degree home invasion, the criminal defense team at Mas/Stig-Nielsen knows that this is no joke to you. Relying on our courtroom experience, legal research, and knowledge of the law, we can assess the particular facts of your case to determine what your options are.
Possible Defenses to Home Invasion Charges
To convict a person of home invasion, a prosecutor will need to prove every element of the crime using admissible evidence. Understanding this gives you an idea of how your Traverse City home invasion lawyer can defend you against these charges.
The first step is to thoroughly investigate every aspect of the case, rather than simply relying on what the police dug up in their own investigation. Next, we will research case law to determine if there are any legal avenues for challenging the charge or underlying evidence.
Our legal team will determine if any evidence can be excluded. This typically is possible when the police obtain the evidence illegally, or in violation of your constitutional rights. For example, if law enforcement searched your home without a warrant and seized items that they say were stolen during the home invasion, then we may be able to challenge the results of that search – and have the evidence thrown out of court.
In other cases, we may be able to show that the facts simply don’t support the charge. Perhaps your intent was only to commit a lower-level crime – so the crime should have been home invasion 3rd degree, instead of 1st or 2nd degree home invasion. Alternatively, if the homeowner gave you permission to enter their home, it may be a defense to a home invasion charge.
Each case is different, and the defense in your case will be based on the facts of your case. When you hire Mas/Stig-Nielsen, you can rest assured that we will fully examine each aspect of your case to develop an aggressive strategy that is tailored to your unique situation.
What Are the Penalties for Home Invasion in Michigan?
If you are convicted of home invasion in the 1st degree in Michigan, you may be sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Home invasion in the 2nd degree is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $3,000. Home invasion in the 3rd degree, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $2,000.
A conviction for any of these charges will also mean having a criminal record. If you have been charged with home invasion in Michigan, a skilled criminal defense attorney can fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed, or for a favorable plea deal. When necessary, our law office will take your case to trial and ask a jury to find you not guilty.
What’s the Difference Between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Home Invasion?
All degrees of home invasion involve either breaking and entering into someone else’s home, or entering without permission. The difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree home invasion in Michigan is what you do or plan to do once inside.
First-degree home invasion has the same basic elements as a second-degree home invasion – but involves an added element of either having a deadly weapon or a person lawfully being present in the dwelling at the time. The distinction between second and third-degree home invasion is the type of criminal activity that a person either does or intends to do. Generally, if a person intends to commit or does commit a less serious (misdemeanor) crime, they’ll be charged with home invasion 3rd degree.
What Are the Breaking and Entering Laws in Michigan?
In Michigan, it is a felony to break and enter into a tent, hotel, office, store, shop, warehouse, barn, granary, factory or other building, structure, boat, ship, shipping container, or railroad car with the intent to commit a felony or larceny (theft). It differs from home invasion charges in that the building or structure that is entered is not a home. Breaking and entering is punishable by a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment.
Like home invasion charges, there are a range of possible defenses to a breaking and entering charge. A skilled Traverse City larceny lawyer can work with you to develop a strategy for defending against breaking and entering or other criminal charges. Give our law office a call at 231-714-4128 to schedule a consultation about your case.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
If you have been charged with home invasion or a related crime, you may be overwhelmed as you try to decide what to do. A conviction for home invasion can be devastating, which is why it is so important to work with a skilled home invasion lawyer in Traverse City, Michigan who will fight for your rights.
At Mas/Stig-Nielsen, our practice is dedicated to representing people who have been charged with crimes in Michigan. We use our substantial experience and knowledge of Michigan law to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more or to talk to a Traverse City home invasion attorney, give us a call at 231-714-4128.