Section 348 of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out the offence of breaking and entering as follows:
348 (1) Every one whoThe section sets out a specific requirement that the purpose of the breaking and entering be to commit an indictable offence. This section of the Criminal Code is often plead down to an "unlawfully in dwelling" offence, as found in section 349.
(a) breaks and enters a place with intent to commit an indictable offence therein,
(b) breaks and enters a place and commits an indictable offence therein, or
(c) breaks out of a place after(i) committing an indictable offence therein, or
(ii) entering the place with intent to commit an indictable offence therein,
The punishment for breaking and entering will be based on the facts of any particular case. However, there is a statutory divide between sentences imposed on offenders who have broken into dwelling houses versus offenders who have broken into commercial establishments. This is set out in section 348(1)(d) as follows:
(d) if the offence is committed in relation to a dwelling-house, of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life, and
(e) if the offence is committed in relation to a place other than a dwelling-house, of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Because of the high penalties available, even for a first time offender, careful review of your file is necessary. Break and enter cases are often prosecuted based on DNA links, fingerprint review or other forensic evidence that is not typically found in other cases. The identity of the perpetrator is often the central issue in these cases. Thus, retaining the services of a criminal defence lawyer at the earliest opportunity is imperative, as often the accused believes the police have an insurmountable case and thus confesses, when in fact that evidence was nothing more than conjecture, absent the accused's own admission. If you are being investigated for a break and enter or other analogous crime, contact us immediately.