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lindagray

​​​​​​​Burglary

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Burglary, also called breaking and entering and sometimes housebreaking, is an unlawful entry into a building or other location for the purposes of committing an offence. Usually that offence is theft, but most jurisdictions include others within the ambit of burglary. To engage in the act of burglary is to burgle in British English, a term back-formed from the word burglar, or to burglarize in American English.

Common-law definition
At common law, burglary was defined by Sir Matthew Hale as:

The breaking and entering the house of another in the night time, with intent to commit a felony therein, whether the felony be actually committed or not.

Breaking can be either actual, such as by forcing open a door, or constructive, such as by fraud or threats. Breaking does not require that anything be "broken" in terms of physical damage occurring. A person who has permission to enter part of a house, but not another part, commits a breaking and entering when they use any means to enter a room where they are not permitted, so long as the room was not open to enter.

Entering can involve either physical entry by a person, or the insertion of an instrument to remove property. Insertion of a tool to gain entry may not constitute entering by itself. Note that there must be a breaking and an entering for common-law burglary. Breaking without entry or entry without breaking is not sufficient for common-law burglary.

Although rarely listed as an element, the common law required that "entry occur as a consequence of the breaking". For example, if a wrongdoer partially opens a window with a pry bar—but then notices an open door, which he uses to enter the dwelling, there is no burglary under common law. The use of the pry bar would not constitute an entry even if a portion of the prybar "entered" the residence. Under the instrumentality rule the use of an instrument to effect a breaking would not constitute an entry. However, if any part of the perpetrator's body entered the residence in an attempt to gain entry, the instrumentality rule did not apply. Thus, if the perpetrator uses the prybar to pry open the window and then used his hands to lift the partially opened window, an "entry" would have taken place when he grasped the bottom of the window with his hands.

House includes a temporarily unoccupied dwelling, but not a building used only occasionally as a habitation.

Night time is defined as hours between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.

Typically this element is expressed as the intent to commit a felony “therein”. The use of the word “therein” adds nothing and certainly does not limit the scope of burglary to those wrongdoers who break and enter a dwelling intending to commit a felony on the premises. The situs of the felony does not matter, and burglary occurs if the wrongdoer intended to commit a felony at the time he broke and entered.

Canada
In Canada, breaking and entering is prohibited by section 348 of the Criminal Code and is a hybrid offence. Breaking and entering is defined as trespassing with intent to commit an indictable offence. The crime is commonly referred to in Canada as break and enter, which in turn is often shortened to B and E.

United Kingdom
England and Wales

Burglary is defined by section 9 of the Theft Act 1968, which describes two variants:

A person is guilty of burglary if they enter any building or part of a building as a trespasser with intent to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm or do unlawful damage to the building or anything in it.
A person is guilty of burglary if, having entered a building or part of a building as a trespasser, he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building, or inflicts or attempts to inflict grievous bodily harm on any person in the building.

Northern Ireland
The offence is defined in similar terms to England and Wales by the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969.

Scotland
Under Scots law, the crime of burglary does not exist. Instead theft by housebreaking covers theft where the security of the building is overcome. It does not include any other aspect of burglary found in England and Wales. It is a crime usually prosecuted under solemn procedure in a superior court. Another common law crime still used is Hamesuken, which covers forced entry into a building where a serious assault on the occupant takes place. Common law crimes in Scotland are gradually being replaced by statutes.

United States
In the United States, burglary is prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor and involves trespassing and theft, entering a building or automobile, or loitering unlawfully with intent to commit any crime, not necessarily a theft--for example, vandalism. Even if nothing is stolen in a burglary, the act is a statutory offense. Buildings can include hangars, sheds, barns, and coops; burglary of boats, aircraft, trucks, and railway cars is possible. Burglary may be an element in crimes involving rape, arson, kidnapping, identity theft, or violation of civil rights; indeed, the "plumbers" of the Watergate scandal were technically burglars. As with all legal definitions in the U.S., the foregoing description may not be applicable in every jurisdiction, since there are 50 separate state criminal codes, plus federal and territorial codes in force.

Home invasion
Commission of a burglary with the intention or result of confronting persons on the premises may constitute an aggravated offense known as "home invasion."

Nighttime burglaries
In some states, a burglary committed during the hours of daylight is technically not burglary, but housebreaking. In many jurisdictions in the U.S., burglary is punished more severely than housebreaking. In California, for example, burglary was punished as burglary in the first degree, while housebreaking was punished as burglary in the second degree. California now distinguishes between entry into a residence and into a commercial building, with the burglary of a residence bearing heavier punishment.

In states that continue to punish burglary more severely than housebreaking twilight, night is traditionally defined as hours between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise.

 

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