There are a number of crimes defined by the Nevada legal code that bear a very close resemblance to one another. Three of these are burglary, robbery, and home invasion. The prosecution’s decision about which crime to charge you with usually depends on a number of details about the alleged incident. Since each of the three charges carries its own set of penalties and evidence requirements, it is important for you to know the difference if you have been arrested for any of them. Home invasion is probably the least familiar of the three to most people, and some of the details of the crime may surprise you.
What Is Home Invasion?
Las Vegas courts define home invasion as dependent on three main points:
- Forcible entry. Entering a house through an unlocked or open door or window, even against the will of the owner, does not constitute home invasion. Breaking a window or forcing the lock on a door is considered forcible entry.
- An “inhabited dwelling.” Home invasion can only be committed on a structure or vehicle that serves as a currently used residence. An abandoned house or a business is ineligible, as is a vehicle that is not currently being used as a residence.
- No permission to enter. It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove that you did not have permission to enter the residence before you did so. Even if you broke a window to get into a house, if your defense lawyer shows that the owner of the house had previously given you permission to enter the house, you can not legally be convicted of home invasion. Damaging the property may be a separate offense, but home invasion is not a possibility.
*It is important to note that the owner of the residence does not have to be present for a home invasion charge to stand. If the police catch you inside someone’s home with evidence of having broken in, you can be charged with home invasion.
Nevada’s burglary and robbery laws are similar, but differ on several critical details:
Burglary: The main difference from home invasion is the intent to commit a felony. If the prosecution does not believe it has enough evidence to prove that you planned larceny, assault, or another crime, it may choose to charge you with home invasion instead. However, burglary does not require forced entry like home invasion does, and burglary can be committed at locations that do not fall under the category of home invasion.
Robbery: Defined as stealing something from an individual through force or threat. Therefore, if the owner of a home is not present, you cannot be charged with robbery even if you forced an entry and stole items.
Penalties for Home Invasion
Nevada law dictates that a home invasion conviction carry at least a one year prison sentence as well as fines that can rise to $10,000. The maximum sentence is ten years, but if a deadly weapon was involved, the judge may lengthen that sentence to fifteen years. Probation is only a possibility if you have no prior home invasion or burglary convictions, and your defense lawyer will have to put his skills and influence to work on your behalf to convince the judge to grant you probation.
In some cases, a home invasion conviction is enough to get a legal non-citizen deported from the U.S. If you are not a U.S. citizen and you are accused of home invasion, your attorney must be someone who is very familiar with immigration law and how your residency status will be affected. Your ability to remain in the country could depend on your lawyer’s efforts to get your case reduced, dropped, or dismissed by the court.
Defending Against Home Invasion Charges
Your Las Vegas defense lawyer will listen closely to your story, compare it against Nevada state law and definitions of home invasion, and fight to keep any false testimony, contrived evidence, or unfair accusations out of the courtroom. A home invasion accusation requires a great deal of evidence, and there are many details of your case that could make a conviction illegal. These details will go unnoticed and buried by the prosecution unless your attorney is willing to work as hard as it takes to bring them to the attention of the court. Any doubt that your lawyer casts on any of the specific features of home invasion is a reason that the judge should dismiss your case, whether you had permission to enter a home; did not force an entry; entered an uninhabited building; or did not even enter a building at all. With a dedicated lawyer on your side, you could see your charges dropped by the prosecution before they even reach the courtroom, saving you the expense and inconvenience of enduring a criminal trial.