Break & Enter

Breaking and entering is a very serious offence that has the potential to result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. “Home invasions” are a more serious category to this type of charge. A person can be charged with break & entering even if no items are stolen.


What is Break and Enter?

Break and Enter Lawyer in Toronto Ontario

Break and Enter charges are very and involve many variables. Generally, Break and Enter charges relate to residential homes or commercial places of business. The offence involves the accused entering into a place with the intention of committing an indictable offence.

In spite of what the name suggests, one need not actually “break” or force entry to be charged with this criminal offence. Indeed, walking through an open door has been held to constitute a “Break and Enter.” Moreover, a conviction is not contingent upon any damage to the property entered.

Break and Enters are generally committed by people attempting to steal property. By doing so, they commit the indictable offence of Theft while Breaking and Entering. If an accused does not have the intention to commit an indictable offence, but unlawfully enters a premise, he or she may be committing other offences in the Criminal Code.

It is imperative to have an experienced lawyer represent your rights. Break and Enter is a serious criminal offence, with severe potential penalties.

In sentencing for a Break and Enter case, section 348.1 of the Criminal Code requires a judge to consider as an aggravating fact that a home was occupied and violence was used or threatened at the time of the offence. This is commonly known as a “home invasion.” While there is no offence in the Criminal Code called a “home invasion,” the sentencing ranges for these types of facts are significant.

The maximum punishment for Break and Enter in this case is up to life imprisonment. If the offence is in relation to a place other than a home, the term for imprisonment if convicted can range from a criminal record to 10 years in jail depending on how the Crown proceeds with the case.

Caramanna Friedberg LLP has successfully represented hundreds of Break and Enter cases. Contact us 24/7 to find out how we can ensure you have the most comprehensive defence possible.

See also our section on robbery and theft

Frequently Asked Questions

In sentencing for a Break and Enter case, section 348.1 of the Criminal Code requires a judge to consider as an aggravating fact that a home was occupied and violence was used or threatened at the time of the offence. This is commonly known as a "home invasion." While there is no offence in the Criminal Code called a "home invasion," the sentencing ranges for these types of facts are significant.

The maximum punishment for Break and Enter in this case is up to life imprisonment. If the offence is in relation to a place other than a home, the term for imprisonment if convicted can range from a criminal record to 10 years in jail depending on how the Crown proceeds with the case.

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A "felony" is a classification of crime in the United States. In Canada, there are three classifications of crime:

  • Summary Conviction Offences (the least serious offences, for example
  • Indictable Offences (more serious crimes)
  • Hybrid Offences (means the Crown can choose how it wants to proceed, either by summary conviction or indictment, depending on the particularly facts and circumstances of the case)

If the premise in question is a "dwelling house" , then the offence is a straight indictable offence. If not, it is a hybrid offence, and the Crown can proceed by summary conviction or indictment.

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In spite of what the name suggests, one need not actually "break" or force entry to be charged with this criminal offence. Indeed, walking through an open door has been held to constitute a "Break and Enter." Moreover, a conviction is not contingent upon any damage to the property entered.

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The Crown is required the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in a break and enter case:

  • Identity of the accused;
  • Date, time, and jurisdiction;
  • The location of the premises that was broken into or out of;
  • The accused entered the premises;
  • The accused did not have permission to enter the premises;
  • The accused intended to or did commit an indictable offence;

If charged under section 348(1)(d) of the Criminal Code, the Crown will also have to prove that the premises was a "dwelling house" .

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Factual Innocence: If the Crown is unable to prove the essential elements of the particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have failed to discharge their burden, and the accused will be acquitted.

Invitation: A defence may be available if the accused can demonstrate he had permission to be on the premises.

Violation of Charter Rights: Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals are afforded specific rights, including:

  • the right against unreasonable search and seizure;
  • the right to not be arbitrarily detained;
  • the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest;
  • the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay; and
  • the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

A successful Charter challenge may also result in a stay of proceedings, or evidence from your case being excluded.

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian citizens are guaranteed certain rights and freedoms, which can only be limited by law so long as the limit can be demonstrated to be reasonable in a free and democratic society. These rights include:

  • Fundamental Freedoms (freedom of religion, expression, powerful assembly, and freedom of association)
  • Democratic Rights (right to vote)
  • Mobility Rights (right to enter, remain, and move around in Canada)
  • Legal Rights (discussed below)
  • Equality Rights (right to equal treatment under the law and equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination)
  • Language Rights (right to be able to communicate with government in French and English)
  • Minority Language Education Rights (right to have children educated in their own language)

A Charter application is a motion brought on behalf of the defence alleging a breach or breaches of the accused Charter rights. The issues raised on a Charter application are normally in regard to one™s legal rights under sections 7 “ 14 of the Charter:

  • right to Life, Liberty, and Security of the Person
  • freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
  • freedom from arbitrary detention or imprisonment.
  • right to legal counsel and the guarantee of habeas corpus.
  • rights in criminal and penal matters such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment.
  • rights against self-incrimination.
  • right to an interpreter in a court proceeding.

On a Charter application, there are also submissions as to what the appropriate remedy is, such as a stay of proceedings or having evidence excluded from a trial.

To obtain a Charter remedy, the accused must:

  • lay out a factual foundation;
  • bring the application at the appropriate stage of litigation; and
  • demonstrate that, on a balance of probabilities, there has been a violation of his or her Charter right(s).
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It is an offence under section 348(1) of the Criminal Code to break and enter a place with intent to commit an indictable offence.

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The maximum punishment for Break and Enter involving a dwelling house is up to life imprisonment. If the offence is in relation to a place other than a home, the term for imprisonment if convicted can range from a criminal record to 10 years in jail depending on how the Crown proceeds with the case.

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