Breaking & Entering

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Breaking & Entering Explained

Breaking and entering is a serious crime in Massachusetts, and can potentially raise to the level of felony depending on the facts, such as what time of day it during the crime, and the intent of the person while committing the crime. Massachusetts has a number of breaking and entering crimes. Some are misdemeanors and some are felony offenses. Breaking and entering crimes include:

  • Breaking & Entering in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony
  • Breaking & Entering in the daytime/nighttime with the intent to commit a misdemeanor
  • Breaking & Entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony

Each of these crimes has in common two specific elements that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt - breaking, and entering.

What Qualifies as 'Breaking' and 'Entering'?

Both "breaking" and "entering" have broad definitions in Massachusetts. It does not just mean breaking a window or using a crowbar to force open a door. Massachusetts law defines breaking as exerting physical force, even slight physical force, and thereby forcibly removing an obstruction and gaining entry.  Another definition would be: moving in a significant manner anything that bars the way into the (building) (ship) (vessel) (vehicle).  As said, breaking a window or kicking in a door is a clear breaking, but so is opening a closed door or window, even if they are unlocked.  Going in through an open window that is not intended for use as an entrance is also a breaking. Going in through an unobstructed entrance — such as an open door — is not.

"Entering" is more straight forward. If any part of a person's body crosses the threshold of a structure (building) (ship) (vessel) (vehicle), even just a hand or foot, or any instrument or weapon controlled by the person, is sufficient for "entering." A good example is reaching into an open car window - this is enough to constitute the crime of breaking and entering.

Punishments for Breaking & Entering

Breaking and Entering at Nighttime with the Intent to Commit a Felony is punishable by up to 20 years in state prison, and is a felony in Massachusetts.

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

Entering without breaking at nighttime, and Breaking and Entering during the daytime with intent to commit a felony are felony offenses and 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 7 years in state prison.


Defenses to Breaking & Entering

Breaking and entering is  serious crime, and as such should be fought on all possible grounds. Prosecutors must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt, including that it was you that entered the property, and that you did not have permission to do so. The most difficult element for the prosecutors to typically prove is the intent of the defendant at the time of the break in. In general, it is very hard to prove what a person has in their mind at any given time, and usually requires some admission by the defendant.

The Attorneys of Equitas Law, LLP are seasoned litigators who will fight for your rights to the end. We handle the most serious cases in Massachusetts, and can provide you with a top defense. If you are facing a Breaking and Entering charge, call us today for a free case evaluation. Call or text (617) 723-4163 now.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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