What is break, enter and steal?
In the State of NSW, it is an offence to break into a house or premises and steal property or commit any other offence that the law considers to be serious. This offence is commonly referred to as "Break, Enter and Steal” or “Break, Enter and Commit Serious Indictable Offence". A serious indictable offence is an offence that carries more than five years of imprisonment. For example, offences such as larceny, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and sexual assault.
Who can be charged with break, enter & steal?
You can be charged with this offence if you break something like a lock, gate, door or window, enter a house or premises and steal or seriously assault someone.
How can I be convicted of break, enter & steal?
To convict you of Break, Enter and Steal the prosecution must prove each of the following element beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you broke something; and
2. That that by breaking something you gained access to a house, residence or premises; and
3. That you entered the house, residence or premises; and
4. That you either stole something or committed a serious indictable offence.
What are the defences available to a charge of break, enter and steal?
The common ways to defend this charge are:
- To assert your innocence if you did not commit the act, or have been wrongly accused of committing such an offence;
2. To argue that you did not break anything and did not enter or gain access to a house or premises so alleged;
3. To argue that you did not steal anything or that you did not commit a strictly indictable offence; or
4. To raise the defences of necessity or duress as an explanation of your behaviour.
What is the maximum penalty for break & enter?
The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.
If the offence is committed in ‘circumstances of aggravation’ the maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment. There are different levels of ‘aggravation’ or seriousness of this offence depending on the behaviour of the person while inside the house or premises.
‘Circumstances of aggravation’ include wounding or very seriously assaulting someone in the house or being in possession of a dangerous weapon.
What are the sentences available for an offence of break & enter?
1. Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility.
2. Intensive correction order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with several conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and or performing community service.
3. Suspended sentence: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are abided by you the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years.
4. Community service order (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place outlined by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. To be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service and be declared suitable to undertake the CSO.
5. Good behaviour bond: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a period. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond.
6. Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine to impose, the magistrate or judge will consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine he or she sets.
7. Section 10 pursuant to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW): Ordinarily, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence such as break, enter and steal, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have that conviction as a criminal record. However, if we can persuade the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a what is commonly known as a Section 10 dismissal instead. This dismissal can also be subject to a period of good behaviour by way of a bond and can last up to two (2) years.
We are here to help
Fourtree Lawyers have extensive experience defending clients throughout the Central Coast, the Hunter Region and Sydney facing Break, Enter & Steal charges in Court. If you have been charged with a Break & Enter offence and the Police invite you to participate in a record of interview, you should exercise your "right to silence" and call us immediately.
Your lawyer can explain and guide you through the entire court process from beginning to end and work with you to defend you on a not guilty plea or minimise the ramifications of your offence if you choose to plead guilty.
If you or your loved one has been charged and held in custody and you need advice from a criminal lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately on 1300 529 444 or fill in our contact form to arrange a free conference with a solicitor today. Contact us now! 24-hour legal advice 7 days a week
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