Punishments for breaking and entering may vary according to state law. Breaking and entering is a property crime that may result in penalties such as:

  • A jail sentence (usually less than one year)
  • Criminal fines
  • Criminal restitution (repayment in instances involving property damage)

As with any type of property crime, breaking and entering is also associated with various defenses, such as necessity (i.e., it was necessary to enter the property in order to avoid an emergency or injury).

Is Breaking and Entering a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

Breaking and entering is generally listed as a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors result in jail sentences of less than one year. However, breaking and entering is often associated with the felony crime of burglary. Burglary is usually defined as "breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony while on the premises".

In such cases, breaking and entering will usually be absorbed into the burglary charges, resulting in a felony charge. Felony charges usually involve a prison sentence of greater than one year.

What are Aggravating Factors?

On another note, breaking and entering can by itself become a felony charge if there are "aggravating factors" present in the case. Aggravation factors may cause a misdemeanor charge to be elevated to felony status. These may include:

  • Severe property damage when breaking and entering
  • Theft of a large amount of valuable goods
  • Causing serious bodily harm, injury, or death to another person when entering (such as injuring a security guard in order to gain access)

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Breaking and Entering Punishments?

Breaking and entering is a serious crime that can result in some heavy criminal penalties. You may need to hire a qualified lawyer for assistance if you are facing breaking and entering charges. Your criminal defense attorney can specify which legal defenses might be available to you, and can help you during the criminal trial. Also, punishments can sometimes be reduced or dropped depending on the facts of the case.