Charges of breaking and entering can quickly escalate to burglary charges whether any additional crimes were actually committed or not. Penalties for breaking and entering convictions are usually less severe than penalties for burglary convictions. Although both offenses can have serious penalties, the severity of the punishment often depends on the intent of the crime.
Determining the Intent of the Crime
Breaking and entering and burglary are both serious charges, but a burglary conviction carries more severe penalties. Burglary is defined by law as an activity where someone illegally enters a structure or building with the intent to commit a crime such as theft. When three elements are present, a lesser breaking and entering charge can be elevated to a burglary conviction, a serious felony offense that requires legal representation by a felony lawyer who handles criminal cases. If the following elements apply, an individual may be charged with burglary:
- The accused individual must have entered a structure without consent.
- He or she must have done so with the intention of committing a crime or a crime must have been committed.The criminal activity often includes the theft of something valuable, but the item may not have actually been stolen from the premises.
- The accused individual must physically enter the property.
The primary goal of the prosecution in proving burglary is the intent behind the crime. This is often shown through evidence gathered at the scene such as burglary tools and concealment clothing.
Burglary Charges in Minnesota
There are four degrees of penalties for burglary convictions in Minnesota. Penalties range from fines up to $35,000 and up to 20 years in prison for a first-degree burglary conviction. For fourth-degree burglary convictions, there are fines up to $3,000 and sentences up to one year in prison.
In Minnesota, any type of home invasion is considered burglary, rather than breaking and entering, with penalties that fall under first-degree and second-degree charges. When a burglary occurs, the state imposes heavier sentences for offenders who violate a person’s home or business. Burglary and robbery are often thought of as the same crime, but robbery often involves theft with associated violence or the threat of violence. Breaking and entering into a home or commercial building could result in a robbery charge with severe penalties. If a weapon is used during breaking and entering, burglary, or robbery, first-degree felony convictions with up to 20 years in prison will likely apply.