It might have been one thing if Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer had been burglarized on one occasion.
But as D.C. criminal defense lawyers understand, the justice has been the target of a string of property crimes over the last several months - the most recent of which was the Georgetown burglary of his residence.
Burglary, as defined in D.C. Criminal Code 22-801, is essentially the incidence of a person entering a residence for the purpose of committing some crime. If someone is inside at the time, it's considered a first-degree burglary. In these cases, it would be punishable by between five and 30 years. If there is no one inside at the time, you're still facing somewhere in the neighborhood of two to 15 years if convicted.
If there is ample evidence that you entered the residence unlawfully, one tactic a D.C. criminal defense lawyer may take is that you are only guilty of the lesser unlawful entry of a property. This would mean that you entered when you weren't supposed to, but you had no criminal intent. The statute for this is found in D.C. Criminal Code 22-3302, and you would face a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine - much less steep than the alternative. This could be particularly effective if you are a first-time offender and the evidence is slight as to whether you actually took anything or did any other harm besides entering.
In the incident involving Breyer's home, the 73-year-old Justice was not at the residence at the time it was hit. The incident reportedly happened the first week of May and was discovered by a housekeeper.
A spokeswoman for the court indicated there were no court-related documents that were taken or compromised.
A police report indicates that the individual appeared to have entered by busting a glass pane near the front door. Missing items included a $500 pair of silver candlesticks and 100-piece silver set valued at more than $2,000.
This incident follows an armed robbery that occurred at Breyer's vacation home on the island of Nevis in the West Indies, off the coast of Puerto Rico. That was back in February, and he, his wife and a guest were reportedly robbed inside their home by a man who entered wielding a machete.
The man reportedly took about $1,000 in cash and subsequently fled. A 28-year-old gardener reportedly turned himself into police for the alleged crime. If he's convicted there, he faces potential corporal punishment, such as lashings with a whip.
Punishment for the D.C. burglary won't include that, but in addition to burglary charges, he or she will likely face charges for the theft as well. Under D.C.'s criminal code, stealing more than $1,000 is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 find. If the individual has two or more convictions for prior theft incidents, there would be a minimum mandatory of one year behind bars.