A St. Louis police officer has been accused of drunkenly burglarizing a residence in the Clifton Heights neighborhood. The man, who is 29 years old, is facing felony charges of first-degree burglary after a couple said he entered their home and began taking items from a purse.

The man was reportedly disoriented during the event and the subsequent arrest. The victims told officers that they had been sleeping, along with their three young children, when they heard a noise and discovered the man downstairs. One of the homeowners apparently forced the suspect to leave his home.

The officer's legal team says that he should not be charged with such a severe crime, largely because he did not demonstrate criminal intent in entering the home. He did not forcibly enter the home because the front door was unlocked.

Additionally, the man was unarmed and complied with all law enforcement directives during his arrest. The criminal intent required to prove burglary is not present, and so the man's attorneys argue that he should be facing trespassing charges, rather than rather serious felony charges.

Even though the family may have been unnerved by the man's appearance, the incident, as reported, does not warrant such severe allegations, according to the officer's attorney. The officer has been suspended from his job at the department pending the results of the criminal and internal investigations.

According to official records, the officer has been employed by the St. Louis Police Department for six year. Reports do not indicate that he has any prior disciplinary issues.

Other residents say he had visited their home, as well, that morning. Another couple said he was trying to get in through their screen door, mumbling incoherently and behaving as though he was drunk and allegedly smelling of alcohol, which could be an explanation for his out-of-character behavior.

The hope is that the officer's defense team can be convincing in presenting the evidence to show the man did not have intent to commit a crime when he stumbled into the home. By bringing forth a strong case, this criminal issue can be resolved favorably.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis police officer suspended, charged with burglary," Christine Byers, July 17, 2012