What is Burglary?

fingerprint for theft
Burglary is defined by s9 of the Theft Act 1968 . A person can be guilty of burglary in two ways:
  • They enter a building as a trespasser with the intent to steal, inflicting grievous bodily harm or doing unlawful damage to the building or anything in it;
  • Having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building or that part of it or inflicts or attempts to inflict on any person therein any grievous bodily harm.

What needs to be established to prove the offence of burglary?

The elements of the offence are:
  • That the person enters a building or part of a building – partial entry is sufficient, so any part of their body, such as their arm, entering would be enough;
  • Building – this can be a house, or a non-dwelling building;
  • That they do this as a trespasser – this can include someone being given permission to enter a part of a house but then entering another part they do not have permission to enter;
  • Intent – the intention is to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm or do unlawful damage
Burglaries can take place in a dwelling or a non-dwelling property. Whether it is a dwelling or not is a questions of fact, although s9(4) of the Act does state that an inhabited vehicle or vessel could be considered a dwelling. In the case of R v Hudson [2017] EWHC 841 Admin it was stated that the more habitable a building the more likely it is to be a dwelling.
Whether or not a property is a dwelling is important for sentencing purposes.

Sentencing a Burglary

Burglary is an either way offence – which means it can be heard in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Although, if it is a third domestic burglary then the offence becomes indictable only and the defendant would serve at least three years in custody.
The maximum sentence for a domestic/dwelling burglary is 14 years and for a non-domestic burglary is 10 years.

These offences can be complicated and if you find yourself accused you should seek independent legal advice. Our solicitors regularly represent clients at the police station and court for offences ranging from shoplifting to complex frauds.

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