Break and Enter

Breaking and entering offences can result in significant and serious penalties if you are convicted. The criminal defence lawyer you choose can have a major impact on the outcome of your case if you have been accused of home invasion or a similar crime.

Breaking & Entering (B&E), robbery, and home invasion are serious criminal offences that can lead to jail time. It is vital that you get in touch with experienced and reliable criminal defence law firm such as Dale Melville Law if you are facing any of these charges. Mr. Melville has extensive experience in defending clients against these charges across courts in British Columbia.

What is Break and Enter?

Breaking and entering refers to a crime that involves breaking into a home or an establishment with the criminal intent to commit an offence therein. The word ‘intent’ is of importance here since a person can be proved guilty of B&E even if he or she did not actually commit the crime once inside the place.

There are two basic types of break and enter charges: dwelling and places other than dwellings. Dwelling is a term given to apartment, house, or even a garage. Non-dwelling properties include convenience store, warehouse, and other similar commercial places.

It is important to understand that the punishment can be different for dwelling vs. non-dwelling break and enter cases. Also, the term “break” does not actually refer to physically breaking down a door or shattering a window to enter the premises.

In certain situations, “breaking and entering” can involve opening a door and entering the premises or even reaching through an open window to enter.

How is Breaking and Entering Different from Home Invasion and Robbery?

Breaking and Entering in simple terms is the process of entering a place with the intention to commit a serious or indictable offence. It is different from home invasion and robbery in following ways:

Home Invasion

Home invasion is not recognized as an official offence. However, the Criminal Code does indicate that breaking and entering a dwelling or home when there are people inside is far more serious than commercial establishments.

Home B&E is automatically considered a serious or indictable offence which can be punished with life imprisonment by the Crown. In addition, the very fact that home invasion suggests threat of violence against people in their homes leads to a more severe sentence.


Robbery is the forceful act of acquiring property by using violence or threatening violence, which makes it a more serious crime than theft. Robbery has various types, including street robbery, bank robbery, and store robbery. It is different from B & E as it does not always constitute entering a premise. You may wish to learn more about criminal defence services for robbery charges.



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    Laws Related to Break and Enter in Surrey BC

    Breaking and entering is described under section 348 of the Criminal Code. It is vital to understand everything about the laws surrounding this criminal offence if you or a loved one has been charged with it. A person is guilty of this charge if:

    • they break and enter an establishment or a residence and commit an indictable offence
    • they break and enter an establishment or a residence with the intention of committing an indictable offence
    • they enter an establishment or a residence with the purpose of committing a serious or an indictable offence
    Penalties for Breaking and Entering

    Convictions for breaking and entering a dwelling could easily lead to significant jail time. In the case of break and enter into non-dwellings, the maximum possible conviction is 10 years in prison. A conviction amounts to serious consequences. It is vital to hire the right lawyers to put up a good defence because of hefty consequences.

    Section 348 (1) (d) of the Criminal Code states that breaking and entering when committed in relation to a house or dwelling carries a sentence for life imprisonment. Whereas, section 348 (1) (e) states that when breaking and entering is carried out in a place other than a dwelling, the punishment shall be imprisonment for a maximum period of 10 years or summary conviction.

    The maximum sentence for summary dispositions is $5,000 fine or 18 months jail term for a non-dwelling residence.

    The Crown often uses circumstantial evidence to convict people of breaking and entering. If you are allegedly found with stolen items, the Crown can rely on the doctrine of recent possession – you committed the breaking and entering because you allegedly have the stolen items in your possession.

    Possible Bail Terms for Break and Enter in British Columbia

    Accused are generally held for bail hearing in Surrey if arrested for breaking and entering either a business or residence. It is possible to be released on bail with reasonable terms after a bail hearing with the assistance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

    Bail can be denied if the accused has a history of violence, an extensive criminal record, and is facing allegations of violence during the B&E occurrence. If you believe this may apply to you, contact Mr. Melville immediately at 604-265-7020.

    It is crucial to retain the services of a well-qualified defence lawyer to ensure that you or your loved ones are released from custody at the initial bail hearing with least restrictive terms possible.

    Possible Defences for Breaking and Entering

    There are numerous potential defences for break-and-enter that might be raised. Mr. Melville can determine which approach will work best for you. Available defences depend upon several factors, including the availability of evidence and the circumstances surrounding the offence.

    In certain cases, identification will be the issue at trial. This means that the Crown failed to prove that the accused is, in fact, the same person committing the offence. This is usually possible where the Crown case cases where lacks civilian witnesses, video surveillance evidence, and forensic evidence.

    To learn how Mr. Melville can fight your case, call us at 604-265-7020 for a free initial consultation.

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      Important: Nothing contained in this website should be construed as legal advice. Descriptions of law, areas of law, or past cases are not legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Each case turns on its specific facts so contact Dale Melville Law at 604-265-7020 today for advice.