Breaking and Entering (B & E)/ Burglary

In Massachusetts, Breaking and Entering at Nighttime with the Intent to Commit a Felony is the crime that is colloquially known as Burglary. This crime is punishable by up to 20 years in state prison. In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did commit the following elements:
  1. At nighttime
  2. Break into a building, ship, vessel, or vehicle belonging to another person
  3. Entered a building, ship, vessel, or vehicle belonging to another person
  4. With the intent to commit a felony

The term "break and enter" is misleading. In order to prove that you did break and enter a building, ship, vessel or vehicle, the prosecution does not have to show that you actually "broke" anything. The element of "breaking" can be met just by showing some exertion of physical force, even just opening an unlocked window or closed door. Entry does not have to be your whole body; if you reach in through a window, either with just your hand or an object, that is an "entry." The "intent to commit a felony" element is often where the prosecution can run into problems. Perhaps you gained entry into the person's home because you were stranded outside and needed a place to sleep. Well, that would be trespassing, a significantly lesser criminal charge, since you had no intent to commit a felony in the dwelling. The "nighttime" elements is defined as the average time in that area for one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise the next day.

Breaking and Entering at nighttime or daytime with intent to commit a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail. 

Entering without breaking at nighttime,
and Breaking and Entering during the daytime with intent to commit a felony are both punishable by up to ten years in state prison. Any person who is armed with a firearm during the commission of this offense faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in state prison.

Entering a dwelling by false pretenses, with either intent to commit a felony or actually committing a larceny, is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Possession of Burglarious Tools
is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and $1,000 fine.

This is one of the most difficult crimes for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition to proving that the tools or instruments you possessed were specifically designed for committing a breaking and entering crime, they must also prove your specific intent to commit a crime with such tools. Such proof usually comes in the form of a confession, or a plethora of incriminating circumstantial evidence. The mere presence of such tools in the trunk of your car, for example, falls far short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt for this offense.

If you have been charge with any breaking and entering or burglary-related offense in Massachusetts, contact our office for your free initial consultation:

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