What is Breaking and Entering?

When people think of ‘break and enter’ they often think of break enter and steal. However, stealing need not be part of this offence. A person can break and enter and commit an indictable offence such as sexual assault, or intimidation etc.

‘Breaking’ does not necessarily mean breaking a window or door or picking a lock. Simply opening a closed window or door to gain access to premises is sufficient. However, if a person enters through an open window or door, there is no ‘break’ and that offence cannot factually be proved guilty.

There are various forms of aggravating circumstances of a break and enter, including where more than one person breaks into a premises, or where a person breaks in knowing a person is at home, or breaks in at night.

Sometimes in domestic relationships that are breaking down or have broken down, the question of a person’s entitlement to enter premises is disputed.

We recently acted for a man who was in a ‘long distance’ relationship with a woman. They frequently called each other and took opportunities to travel to each other’s homes and maintain their relationship. However when he entered her house one day, an argument of some type took place and she complained to police that he broke into the premises simply by opening the door. He was charged with an aggravated break and enter and bail was refused! Outrageous you might think!

The penalties for break and enter can be very severe – it is recommended to seek the advice of an experienced defence lawyer.

Break and Enter and Related Offences FAQs

What is Break and Enter?

Break and Enter is simply the breaking of the ‘seal’ to premises and entering those premises with part of the body or an instrument. ‘Breaking’ can be as simple as opening an unlocked door or window and does not have to include the breaking of a lock.

Can You Be Guilty of Break enter and Steal if you are caught in the premises?

Yes. Simply because you were caught in the premises and did not escape with the goods will not prevent a conviction for this offence. The asportation or movement of the goods within the premises can be sufficient to establish the ‘stealing’ of the goods.

What is an aggravated break and enter offence?

Break and Enter is aggravated in circumstances where the offence occurs in company (two or more people involved); where the offender is armed with a weapon or offensive implement; where the offence occurs at night; and where the offence occurs when a person is at home.