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Breaking Entering and Committing a Serious Indictable Offence

Breaking, Entering and Committing a Serious Indictable Offence is a crime under section 112 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You broke into and entered a dwelling house or other building, and
  2. Committed a serious indictable offence while there.

The Act does not define ‘broke’ however, courts have found that it means to ‘forcibly gain entry’

And can include:

  1. Unlocking a door or window
  2. Pushing open a closed but unlocked door
  3. Opening a closed but unlocked window, and
  4. Raising a latch or loosening a fastening to secure entry

The courts have found that it may not include:

  1. Walking through an open door, or
  2. Further opening a window that is already significantly ajar.

A ‘dwelling house’ includes:

  1. Any structure intended for occupation as a dwelling and capable of being so occupied, even if it has never been occupied
  2. A vehicle or boat in or on which a person resides, and
  3. Any structure that is ancillary to the dwelling

A ‘serious indictable offence’ is one which carries a maximum penalty of at least 5 years in prison which includes stealing (larceny)

The maximum penalty increases to 20 years in prison where the offence is committed in circumstances of aggravation which is where you:

  1. Were armed with an offensive weapon or instrument
  2. Were with at least one other person
  3. Used corporal violence
  4. Intentionally or recklessly inflicted actual bodily harm
  5. Deprived a person of their liberty, or
  6. Knew there was at least one person in the dwelling

‘Offensive weapon or instrument’ means:

  1. A dangerous weapon, or
  2. Anything made or adapted for offensive purposes, whether or not it is ordinarily used as a weapon or capable of causing harm

The maximum increases to 25 years where you:

  1. Intentionally wounded or inflicted grievous bodily harm
  2. Inflicted grievous bodily harm and were reckless as to causing actual bodily harm, or
  3. Were armed with a dangerous weapon

‘Dangerous weapon’ means:

  1. A firearm or imitation firearm
  2. A prohibited weapon, or
  3. A spear gun

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Self-defence
  2. Duress
  3. Necessity, and
  4. Having a claim of right over property, which means you genuinely believed you were legally entitled to the property

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