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Breaking and Entering

Breaking and Entering Lawyers

While sometimes confused with burglary, breaking and entering simply means that you broke into and entered a home or building. In some cases, just entering a home or building without force could be considered breaking and entering. Those who face such a charge could be sentenced to jail time or other significant penalties whether or not they take anything or do any damage.

The Elements of a Breaking and Entering Charge

To be charged with breaking an entering, you must enter a building, home or other structure either through force or deceit. For instance, you may choose to gain access to a structure by convincing a security guard to give you a security code or by having someone allow you entry to a home under false pretenses.

The Charge Is Generally a Misdemeanor

Assuming that an individual broke into a building or structure and did not take anything, that person will be charged with a misdemeanor. Penalties for a misdemeanor often include a jail term of less than a year and a fine. Probation, community service and the loss of other privileges may also be added as penalties after a conviction on a misdemeanor.

If an individual who is charged with breaking and entering is found to have stolen items while inside, he or she may be charged with felony burglary instead. In such a scenario, the breaking and entering charge is implied and combined with the burglary charge. Felonies generally carry longer periods behind bars, and you generally do your time in a prison as opposed to a jail.

How to Defend Against Such a Charge

To be convicted on a charge of breaking and entering, there needs to be evidence that you entered a building or structure without authorization. If a homeowner said that you could spend the night there or the owner of a commercial building gave you the code to gain entry, no offense would have taken place.

It may also be possible to argue that you mistakenly entered a home or building because you were intoxicated and did not intend to enter illegally. The easiest way to prove the claim that you did nothing wrong is to have the building owner give a written or oral statement on your behalf.

It is not uncommon for a homeowner to need to force his or her way into his or her own home. For instance, that person may have accidentally locked a door and didn’t have the key to open it. As long as you can prove that you own the property, it is not possible to be charged with this crime.

While a misdemeanor, a conviction for breaking and entering could cause an interruption to your personal and professional lives. A fine could make it harder to pay bills or fund discretionary expenses while jail time could lead to job loss or otherwise make it harder to hold onto your position with a company. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney who may be able to help win an acquittal or an otherwise favorable outcome in your case.