I’ve previously written about the elements of house burglary and the punishments faced by someone who is arrested for house burglary in Mississippi. In any house burglary case, whether the building broken into was a “dwelling house” must be considered. This is important because, under Mississippi law, the penalties for burglary of an occupied dwelling are much tougher than for burglary of other types of buildings.
To qualify as house burglary (also known as burglary of a dwelling house, or burglary of an occupied dwelling), the building broken into must be a dwelling house. This includes not only the house itself, but “every building joined to, immediately connected with, or being part of the dwelling house.”
Mississippi courts have ruled that the mere fact that the building is a house, does not mean it is a dwelling house under the burglary statute. The house must actually be “occupied.” In other words, someone must actually live in the house (although they do not have to be physically present in the house at the time of the burglary).
Examples of houses that will qualify as dwelling houses under Mississippi’s burglary law include houses where the owner is away temporarily, but intends to return, or where they only live in the house on a part-time basis.
An example of what is not a dwelling house under the burglary statute is a newly-built house that has never had anyone living in it. Another example is a house where the occupant has permanently moved out and has no intention of returning to the property. Neither of these examples would be dwelling houses under the Mississippi burglary statute.
Another issue that can arise in house burglary cases is where the building burglarized is a structure outside the main house. For those type of structures to be considered part of the dwelling for house burglary purposes, the structures must be somehow physically connected to the main house. For example, the Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that a utility shed which shared a common roof and ceiling with the main house was part of the dwelling under Mississippi burglary law.
Whether or not a building is a dwelling house will depend on the specific facts of each individual case. You will need an experienced criminal lawyer to thoroughly investigate these facts.
If you have been arrested for burglary, you need an experienced Mississippi criminal defense lawyer working for you. Please contact our Jackson MS criminal defense law firm for immediate assistance.