Break & Enter Offences

The team at Jackson John Defence Lawyers have extensive knowledge and experience in defending clients charged with break and enter offences. We understand that being accused of break and enter can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. That’s why we are committed to providing our clients with compassionate and understanding representation. Our lawyers are experienced in all aspects of break and enter law, and we have a deep understanding of the defences that are available to clients. We will work tirelessly to investigate the facts of your case and build a strong defence.

Types of Break & Enter Offences

There is a wide array of house-breaking offences in NSW with varying degrees of severity with respect to penalty depending upon the factual circumstances of the offending.

Break and Enter

The most common form of this type of offence is called, “break and enter” which is defined in section 112 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This offence is committed when a person enters a building or part of a building without the owner’s consent and with the intention of committing a serious indictable offence, such as theft or assault. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 14 years.

The Prosecution must prove three essential elements, beyond reasonable doubt, for you to be found guilty of this offence, namely:

  • You broke the seal of the property: The term “break” is often misunderstood to mean a door or window was broken to gain access to the property, and while this certainly would constitute a “break”, it also extends to opening a closed but unlocked door, and opening a window to gain entry to the building.
  • You gained entry to the property: The Prosecution must adduce evidence to show you were inside the building. Often, they might rely upon DNA or fingerprint evidence to prove this element, or the statement of the occupant or other witness.
  • You committed a serious indictable offence while in the property: A serious indictable offence is defined as any offence which has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or more. This can include stealing, serious assault, or intimidation, for example.

Aggravated & Specially Aggravated Break and Enter

The maximum penalty increases to 20 years imprisonment if the house-breaking was committed in any of the following circumstances:

  • The accused person is armed with an offensive weapon or instrument such as a knife;
  • The accused person is in the company of another person or persons;
  • The accused person uses corporal violence, such as pushing, on any person;
  • The accused person causes actual bodily harm to any person, such as bruising and cuts;
  • The accused person deprives any person of their liberty; or
  • The accused person knows that there is a person or persons in the building.

If the house-breaking was committed in any of the above circumstances and the accused person wounds or causes any person grievous bodily harm or is armed with a dangerous weapon such as a gun, the maximum penalty increases to 25 years imprisonment.

Enter Dwelling-House

If the Prosecution cannot prove you broke the seal of a house to gain entry, they may charge you with enter dwelling-house with intent to commit a serious indictable offence pursuant to s 111 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

The Prosecution must prove the following essential elements, beyond reasonable doubt, for you to be found guilty of this offence, namely:

  • You entered a dwelling-house: This term refers to a person’s home and does not include any other type of building. As with a s 112 offence, the Prosecution must adduce evidence to show you were inside the house.
  • You had intent to commit a serious indictable offence: Unlike the s 112 offence, the Prosecution do not need to prove that you committed an offence while inside the house, but rather they need to adduce evidence to establish that you intended to commit a serious indictable offence therein. For example, if Police have CCTV footage of you rummaging around the living room of a house, they may allege you intended to steal something.

Aggravated & Specially Aggravated Enter-Dwelling-House

If you committed a s 111 offence in the same aggravating and specially aggravating circumstances noted in relation to a s 112 offence, the maximum penalty increases to 14 years and 20 years imprisonment, respectively.

Are there Any Defences?

The advantage of seeking representation with Jackson John Defence Lawyers is our ability to employ various strategies to defend the charges. One possible defence to offences of this nature is to challenge the Prosecution’s evidence, such as eyewitness testimony or DNA evidence, which may not be reliable.

Another defence is mistaken identity. If the Prosecution does not have your DNA or fingerprint evidence to tie you to the scene, they will be relying upon what’s commonly known as “circumstantial identification evidence.” The easiest way to explain how this type of evidence can be used is by example.

Let’s say you have been charged with an offence of break and enter. The brief of evidence includes:

  • A statement from the homeowner who states that the house was locked when they went to bed that night and when they woke in the morning their TV was missing.
  • An eyewitness statement who describes what the person who committed the offence looked like, which largely matches your description.
  • CCTV footage which depicts a person wearing distinctive clothing entering the backyard of the home during the night in question and leaving shortly later holding what appears to be a TV.
  • Clothing seized from your house which is similar to the distinctive clothing.
  • A receipt from a pawn shop for a TV which is the same make and model of the TV taken from the homeowner.

As you can see, there is no direct evidence establishing you as the offender, however, there are pieces of evidence which the Prosecution could say when considered as a whole give rise to a reasonable inference that you committed the offence. However, the inference must be reasonable. The team at Jackson John Defence Lawyers are greatly skilled at drawing the Court’s attention to the distinction between drawing a reasonable inference from proven facts and engaging in mere speculation, the result of which will lead to acquittal.

With our extensive knowledge of house-breaking laws, relevant court cases, and possible defences, Jackson John Defence Lawyers are the best team to represent you in your house-breaking case. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you.