Burglary, Dwelling Burglary, Non-Dwelling Burglary, Breaking and Entering
Burglary is one of the first criminal offences that people associate with dishonesty. It is a serious offence, defined by section 9 of the Theft Act 1968.
If you are accused of burglary, the prosecution must prove that:
- You entered a property as a trespasser (without permission), and
- You intended to steal property, damage property, or cause grievous bodily harm
For the offence of burglary, “property” can be any building or even part of a building that you do not have permission to enter. For example, if you enter a shop, but then go into the storage area that is not accessible to the public, this would be entering a property as a trespasser.
Burglary is a serious offence because it often causes great distress to the owner of the burgled property. In particular, burglary of a dwelling (a residential building) is serious because the householder feels their property has been violated. Burglary of a non-dwelling is still serious however, and can justify immediate prison sentences.
Burglary is an either way offence, meaning that it can be dealt with by either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. The maximum sentence in the Magistrates Court is 6 months custody, while the Crown Court can impose up to 14 years for a dwelling burglary, or up to 10 years for a non-dwelling offence.
Three Strike Burglary, Minimum Sentencing Powers
The Courts take such a serious view of burglary offences that their is a minimum sentence for anyone accused of a third set of dwelling burglary offences. This “Three-Strike Burglary” rule means that if you have 2 previous convictions for burgling a dwelling house and are accused of a third offence, your case is so serious that only the Crown Court can deal with the case and you would receive a minimum sentence of 3 years imprisonment
In addition to the basic offence described above, there is an offence of aggravated burglary, defined in section 10 of the Theft Act 1968.
If, when committing the basic offence of burglary, an offender has with him a firearm, imitation firearm, or other offensive weapon, the offence becomes so serious that only the Crown Court can hear the case. The sentencing powers are increased to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
If you have been accused of burglary, it is important that you have expert advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Contact us to see if we can help you find the best criminal solicitor or barrister for your case.
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