A San Francisco burglar just received a 327-year sentence for wreaking havoc on the city’s elderly residents. In 2014, German Woods began his criminal spree of home invasions and robberies. The 60-year-old burglar targeted vulnerable senior citizens who lived alone. He would hide in the shadows, attacking as they entered their homes. Many of the seniors spoke very little English, or none at all. In 2016, Woods was convicted on multiple charges, including some for elder abuse.
Consecutive Sentencing vs. Concurrent Sentencing
In the case above, Woods was charged on 17 counts, including burglary, robbery, and elder abuse. Each of these counts carries its own sentence. When a judge decides that a convict must serve multiple count sentences consecutively, each sentence is added to the next. This is how Woods ended up with a 327-year sentence. If, on the other hand, a judge decides on a concurrent sentence, all of the separate sentences will be served simultaneously. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with burglary.
Burglary Penalties in MA
In MA, burglary is loosely defined as unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. Although theft is not necessary to justify a burglary charge, it is a common element of the crime. As with most crimes, the penalties for burglary depend largely on the underlying circumstances, prior criminal history, and the severity of the offense. For example, someone who enters a home for the sole purpose of trespassing will likely receive a lesser punishment than someone who enters a home, ties up the occupants, and steals valuable jewelry. If you are convicted of burglary in MA, you may face the following penalties:
- Burglary: This crime is a felony offense and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. If it’s a first offense and no one was home at the time of the burglary, the sentence will generally be less severe. A second offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
- Armed burglary: Burglarizing an occupied home with a weapon in your possession carries a 15-year minimum sentence for a first offense.
- Burglary with assault: Assault doesn’t require the use of a weapon. In fact, you don’t even have to physically harm someone to commit assault. Simply causing another to fear for their safety is enough to justify an assault charge. Burglary with assault carries a 10-year minimum sentence for a first offense.
- Home invasion: This offense is similar to burglary in that it requires unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. However, to be considered a home invasion, the crime had to occur at night, in a home, and the defendant had to be armed, know someone was at home, and use force or threats. The penalty for home invasion is a minimum sentence of 20 years, and up to life in prison.
Remember, you don’t have to kick down a door to commit burglary. Burglary can be the simple act of unlawfully entering a structure, even if that means opening an unlocked door and stepping inside. A MA criminal defense attorney can protect your rights if you’ve been charged with burglary or any other crime. Continue reading