Tennessee Burglary Laws

Burglary occurs when a person enters a building without permission and with the intent to commit a crime. Since burglary is a crime unto itself, a person can be charged with burglary even if the other intended crime wasn't completed. It's important to remember that each state has its own definition of burglary and may have several statutes that address different circumstances surrounding a burglary. For example, Tennessee separates burglary into three different statutes that each address specific types of burglary.

Important Terms Related to Burglary in Tennessee

It's important to know how certain terms are defined to better understand Tennessee burglary laws. For the purposes of burglary, "entering" can occur when any part of the body, an object in physical contact with body, or an object controlled by a remote control enters. Also, Tennessee burglary laws distinguish between a "habitation" and any other type of building. A habitation is any structure that designed or adapted for overnight accommodations, including mobile homes, tents, and trailers.

The Basics of Tennessee Burglary Laws

When you have a legal question, you typically want a quick and easy answer. And while the best source of information is the actual statute, it usually takes time to understand since laws are written in "legalese." That's why it can be helpful to also read an overview of the statute in plain English. The chart that follows provides just that - an overview of burglary laws in Tennessee as well as links to relevant statutes.

Statute(s)

Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 14, Part 4:

Defining Burglary

A burglary occurs when a person, without consent of the property owner, does any of the following:

  • Enters any part of a building (other than a habitation) that's not open to the public, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;
  • Hides in a building with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;
  • Enters a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault; or
  • Enters a freight, passenger car, trailer, car, boat, airplane, or any other type of motor vehicle with the intent to commit, commits, or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.
Types of Burglary

Aggravated Burglary occurs when a person commits a burglary of a habitation.

Especially Aggravated Burglary occurs when a person commits a burglary of a building (including a habitation) and where the victim* suffers serious bodily injury.

*A "victim" is anyone who is lawfully on the premises.

Charges

Burglary is a Class D felony unless it falls under (d), then it's a Class E felony.

Aggravated Burglary is a Class C felony.

Especially Aggravated Burglary is a Class B felony.

Penalties

The authorized terms of fines and imprisonment for felonies are:

  • Class B felony: 8 to 30 years and a maximum fine of $25,000.
  • Class C felony: 3 to 15 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
  • Class D felony: 2 to 12 years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
  • Class E felony: 1 to 6 years and a maximum fine of $3,000.
Related Statute(s)

Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 14, Part 4:

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Tennessee Burglary Laws: Related Resources

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Charged with Burglary in Tennessee? Talk to a Lawyer

If you've been charged with violating Tennessee burglary laws, it's in your best interest to speak with a local criminal defense attorney who can explain your options and advocate on your behalf in plea negotiations or in court, if necessary.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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