Burglary Defence Solicitors
Burglary offences can be complex: the specialist criminal defence lawyers at Qamar are highly experienced in defending clients charged with burglary and related offences. If you or someone you know is facing burglary, theft, robbery or other charges involving dishonesty, take urgent expert advice from specialist criminal defence solicitors.
The criminal team at Qamar Solicitors have years of experience advising and representing clients who have been charged with burglary offences. These crimes are serious, and seeking specialist advice as early as possible in the investigation will give you the best chance in defending the charges. Criminal law can be complex and difficult to understand, but we enable our clients to understand the nature of the charges against them, and to advise them on the best way to proceed.
What is burglary?
Burglary occurs when someone unlawfully enters a building as a trespasser and intends to steal from the building, or inflict (or attempt to inflict) assault or grievous bodily harm (GBH) on someone inside the building; and do unlawful damage to or inside the building.
There are a number elements to the offence:
- Building: A ‘building’ is a permanent structure or a structure intended to be permanent or to last for some considerable length of time. A building does not have to be complete or actually inhabited. A building can include inhabited vehicles and vessels, such as caravans, boats and barges. However, a burglary of a dwelling is a separate offence to burglary of another type of building.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is someone who does not have the property owner’s express or implied consent to enter the building or premises (or part of it). A shop, for instance, allows members of the public to browse the storefront – but not to enter the till area. Someone who has permission to be in a building but such permission is later revoked, the individual will be trespassing if he or she then enters the building (regardless of previous permission) and could be charged with burglary. However, if permission is refused while the individual is on the premises but then refuses to leave, he or she has not commit burglary.
- Entering: A trespasser can commit burglary if he or she enters the building with only a part of his body. It is not necessary for the whole body to enter the building. So if an individually merely reaches through an open window in order to steal an item, for instance, a burglary charge may follow. However, the individual must know he or she is trespassing (or be aware he or she may be trespassing) but still enter, for the offence of burglary to be made out.
Where the offence requires the commission of theft, assault or GBH, or to do unlawful damage in the property – there must be an intention to steal, commit GBH, or do unlawful damage. If this cannot be shown, the offence of burglary will not be made out by the prosecution
Sentencing for burglary charges
Burglary is triable either way.
On conviction in the Magistrates’ Court of a burglary, the maximum sentence Is 6 months’ custody or a fine. On conviction in the Crown Court of a dwelling the maximum sentence is 14 years’ custody; or for burglary of a non-dwelling the maximum sentence is 10 years’ custody. There is a 3-year minimum sentence on conviction of a defendant’s third domestic burglary.
The level of sentence imposed will depend on factors including whether violence or threats of violence were used, the seriousness of any injuries to the victim/s, the value of stolen goods, whether the occupants of the building were valuable and whether a group was involved in the offence/s.
Where, at the time of the burglary, the defendant had a firearm (or imitation firearm), offensive weapon or any explosive, he or she will have committed the more serious offence of aggravated burglary. There are a number of different types of aggravated burglary and for this reason, it is particularly critical to take specialist legal advice early in the case before police interview under caution.
To have committed aggravated burglary, the defendant must have had the weapon or firearm with him on entering the building or, if entering the building unarmed, have had the weapon at the time of the theft or causing grievous bodily harm (GBH). For instance, the defendant may have entered a dwelling place without a firearm or weapon – but picked up a kitchen knife before attacking an occupant.
It is not necessary to prove an intention on the part of the defendant to use the weapon during the course of the burglary for the offence of aggravated burglary to be made out: possession of it is sufficient.
A number of potential defences are available. For instance, if the defendant genuinely believed he or she had permission to enter the building, or there is genuine mistake as to the right to be entering a building, there may be a valid defence.
Where the offence requires the commission of theft, assault or GBH, or to do unlawful damage in the property – there must be an intention to steal, commit GBH, or do unlawful damage. If it cannot be shown, the offence of burglary (and therefore aggravated burglary) will not be made out.
Aggravated burglary is only triable in the Crown Court.
On conviction, the maximum sentence that can be imposed is life imprisonment. The level of sentence imposed will depend on factors including the nature of the weapon, whether it was used, and the seriousness of any injuries to the victims.
How can we help?
We have years of experience in defending clients charged with burglary, aggravated burglary and other offences. Where necessary, we will aggressively defend our clients against unmerited charges. If you have been accused of a burglary offence, or know anyone that has, contact the criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors immediately for urgent specialist legal advice – whether at the police station or after.