Burglary and Home Invasions in Ohio

Ohio protects people and their property from intruders with the state's burglary and trespass laws.

Burglary

In Ohio, burglary is defined as unauthorized entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime therein.

The two parts of this definition are known as the “elements” of the crime, and to be convicted of burglary, both elements of the crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt (or admitted to by the defendant). That is, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant actually entered the building, and entered with the intent to commit a crime therein. Without sufficient proof of each element, the prosecutor may secure a conviction for some other crime (such as trespass or attempted burglary), but not burglary.

Also notice that the intended crime (such as theft or assault) need not be completed; proof of entry and criminal intent are the only requirements for a conviction.

Entering the building

The first element of the crime of burglary—entering— requires that you actually entered into a structure without permission to do so.

Entering with the intent to commit a crime

The second element of burglary concerns the defendant’s state of mind at the time he or she entered the building. To be convicted of burglary, the defendant must have decided to commit a crime, and then entered the building for that purpose.

Degrees and Penalties

Burglary is broken into three categories (in addition to aggravated burglary, described in the next section), each incurring prison terms according to severity of the crime.

Burglary with a person present

 This form of burglary is a  second degree felony  and includes unauthorized entry into a building where one or more people (other than an accomplice) are present in or around the structure (such as in an attached garage or loading dock area), with the intent to commit a felony in the building.

(Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.12(A)(1).)

Burglary of a habitation when a person is present or is  likely  present

This form of burglary includes unauthorized entry into a habitation when a person is (or is likely to be) present in or around the structure, with the intent to commit a crime in the building. This category is also a  second degree felony.

A “habitation,” includes any permanent or temporary dwelling (such as a house, apartment, or even a tent). This is narrower than the “occupied structure” definition from above, because it includes only dwellings. (Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.12(A)(2).) A "home invasion" is a burglary of this nature.

Burglary with no people present

Slightly less serious, but nonetheless a  third degree felony, this category includes the unauthorized entry into a building intended for residential use that is currently vacant (but not permanently abandoned or vacant for a prolonged time ), with the intent to commit a felony inside. (Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.12(A)(3).) Again, this might be considered a "home invasion."

Aggravated Burglary

Aggravated burglary includes unlawful entry into a building where one or more people (other than an accomplice) are present in or around the structure, with the intent to commit a crime therein; and either possessing a weapon or dangerous explosive device during the offense, or threatening to or actually inflicting physical harm upon someone (other than an accomplice) during the course of the burglary. Aggravated burglary is a  first degree felony. (Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.11.)

Breaking and Entering

Similar to burglary, it is a  fifth degree felony  to unlawfully enter a nonresidential structure (or surrounding land) in or on which no one (other than an accomplice) was present, with the intent of committing a crime therein. (Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.13.)

This is a less serious offense than burglary because it involves a structure that is both unoccupied and nonresidential (such as an abandoned warehouse), two attributes that otherwise increase the likelihood of terror or harm to potential victims.

Trespass

Similar to burglary, trespass is defined as knowingly entering onto private property without the authority to do so. The difference between the two crimes is that trespass does not have the second element explained above (intending to commit another crime inside). Instead, merely entering qualifies as trespass.

Trespass is broken into two categories (in addition to aggravated trespass, described in the next section).

Trespass onto land  is a  fourth degree misdemeanor, and includes knowingly entering or remaining on private property without authority to do so. As this definition implies, the defendant must have had notice that the land was private, which may be given in several ways. Some examples include conspicuously posted signs (such as those reading “No Trespassing” or “Private Property”), actual communication from the property owner or an agent (such as a security guard), or other obvious indicators of private property such as fences or gates. (Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.21.)

Trespass into a dwelling  is a  fourth degree felony, and includes entering a dwelling without permission when someone (other than an accomplice) is likely to be present in that dwelling. (Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.12(B).)

Aggravated Trespass

Aggravated trespass  is a  first degree misdemeanor, and  includes entering or remaining on private land or premises without permission, with the purpose of committing some misdemeanor involving actual or threatened physical harm to another while there.

Unlike the forms of trespass described above, aggravated trespass (like burglary) has both the "entry" and "intention to commit a crime inside" elements. But it is a lesser crime than burglary because it only involves entry onto land, and because the intended crime is a misdemeanor (not a felony, as with burglary).

(Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2911.211.)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have been charged with burglary, trespass, or a related crime, or if you have questions about state laws, consult a qualified local criminal defense attorney. Only an attorney can review the unique facts of your situation, and advise you on how the law will apply to your case.

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