Some people are under the impression that burglary and home invasion are one and the same, but that is not always the case in some states. If you have been victimized by either of these crimes, you may wish to know about the legal differences that apply to these crimes, particularly in our own state of Delaware. Alarm systems customers need to know there is a new law on the books, and it is designed to minimize incidents of both burglary and home invasion, thereby protecting more families from these devastating crimes.
In September 2012, Governor Markell signed a bill that imposed harsher penalties on criminals who break into homes and threaten or injure its residents, a crime that is now classified as home invasion. Titled the Home Invasion Bill (HB 277), the law makes home invasion a crime in its own right, whereas before, home invasion was essentially a variation of a common burglary offense.
Here are the specifics of the new home invasion law in Delaware: It classifies the crime of home invasion as an incident in which a person:
- Enters or remains unlawfully in someone else’s home
- Engages in or attempts to engage in certain crimes of violence against an occupant of the home, including robbery, assault, kidnapping, rape, manslaughter and murder
- Is armed or injures a victim during a burglary
Now, home invasion is a class B felony in Delaware. The law triples the minimum mandatory sentence for a first offense to six years in prison, and it also carries a stricter penalty for a second offense that occurs within five years of being released from prison for a first offense. Burglary carries a sentence of four years; home invasion now carries a sentence of eight years.
The new home invasion law in Delaware was conceived last year when state police reported investigating nearly 50 home invasions involving occupied homes. These crimes were more violent than the average burglary; in one such incident, a 63-year-old man was hit in the chest with a metal pole. A tragic 2008 home invasion crime in Connecticut, followed by the passing of home invasion law in that state, also inspired our state lawmakers to draw up their own blueprint for a new home invasion law in Delaware.
According to Rep. Debra Heffernan, the bill’s lead sponsor, the law will bring about a more just outcome for victims of home invasion. “An armed person breaking into your home and possibly injuring you is one of the most jarring, awful things that can happen to a family,” she said. “Home invasion is a serious crime, and it deserves serious consequences.”
If you are interested in decreasing your chances of home invasion, B Safe Security will be glad to speak with you. Our Delaware alarm systems customers enjoy improved security, whether they are at home or away.