Burglary and Criminal Trespass in Minnesota

A conviction for burglary can result in felony penalties, including prison time and fines. Learn about Minnesota's laws and penalties for burglary and trespass-related crimes.

Burglary refers, generally, to entering a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime. Like other states, Minnesota's law imposes harsher penalties for burglaries of occupied dwellings (home invasions) or where the potential of harm is great (such as armed burglary). If a person enters a building or property without permission but does not commit or intend to commit a crime, the offense fall under the crime of trespassing.

Burglary Definitions

In Minnesota, burglary is defined as:

  • entering a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime, or
  • entering a building without consent and committing a crime inside.

Unlike some other states, Minnesota law doesn't require a person to develop an intent to commit a crime before or right at the point of unauthorized entry. If the person initially only intends to trespass in the building but once inside decides to steal something, the crime is burglary.

Building and Dwelling

The term "building" means any structure suitable for providing shelter to people. To be considered a "dwelling," the building must be used as a permanent or temporary residence. A dwelling can include not only a residential home or apartment but also a motel room, motor home (RV), houseboat, or ice-fishing house.

Entry

The first element of the crime of burglary—entering—can be accomplished in one of three ways: (1) by entering a building without permission, (2) entering a building through false pretenses, or (3) by remaining in the building after the owner has withdrawn consent for the person to be there. An example of this last provision might occur when a party host asks an invited attendee to leave but the attendee refuses to do so. The attendee's refusal will be considered a trespass (more on this below) unless the attendee remains there to commit a crime, in which case, it becomes a burglary.

Traditionally, the crime of burglary involved "breaking and entering," but the requirement of "breaking" no longer exists. A person does not need to enter by force or even pick a lock to commit burglary. Pushing open a slightly ajar door can constitute an unlawful entry. But entry by force in certain instances (see Second-Degree Burglary) can result in harsher penalties.

(Minn. Stat. §§ 609.581, .582 (2020).)

Penalties for Burglary

Penalties for burglary range from a gross misdemeanor to a 20-year felony.

First-Degree Burglary

A person commits burglary in the first degree when the crime involves:

  • entry into an occupied dwelling
  • possession of a dangerous weapon, explosive, or any item used to make the victim believe it's a weapon, or
  • assault on someone in the building or connected property.

First-degree burglary carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $35,000, or both. A person who commits first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling must be incarcerated for not less than six months.

Second-Degree Burglary

Burglary in the second degree includes burglary while in possession of burglary tools and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. It's also second-degree burglary to:

  • enter a banking or securities building using force or threat of force
  • forcibly enter a pharmacy or other building where controlled substances (drugs) are routinely kept or stored, or
  • enter a government building, religious establishment, historic property, or school building, and steal or damage property or intend to do so.

Penalties include up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.

Third-Degree Burglary

Burglary in the third degree involves unauthorized entry into a building (under circumstances not listed above) when the defendant commits or intends to commit theft or a felony or gross misdemeanor. A person convicted of third-degree burglary faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.

Fourth-Degree Burglary

Any other burglary is a gross misdemeanor offense. A person who enters a building without permission and commits or intends to commit a misdemeanor (other than theft) is guilty of fourth-degree burglary. Penalties include a fine of up to $3,000, up to one year in jail, or both.

(Minn. Stat. §§ 609.581, .582 (2020).)

Possession of Burglary or Theft Tools

It's also illegal to possess burglary or theft tools with the intent to use them (or permit another to use them) in a burglary or theft. Burglary and theft tools can include items such as a crowbar, bolt cutters, or explosives. A person convicted of possession of burglary tools faces up to three years in prison and a fine of $5,000. (Minn. Stat. § 609.59 (2020).) (Actual use of the tools in a burglary constitutes second-degree burglary.)

Criminal Trespass

Trespass includes intentionally entering onto the premises of another without lawful permission. The term "premises" is broad and includes buildings, real property, land, and structures.

Several activities qualify as trespass, such as:

  • refusing to leave another's property upon being told to leave
  • entering a dwelling, locked building, or school without permission
  • tampering with a boundary line (such as a fence), or
  • entering a construction site or mine that is locked or has "no trespassing" signs posted.

A person who commits trespass faces misdemeanor penalties, which may incur up to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, or both. The penalties for trespass increase to a gross misdemeanor if a person trespasses on restricted agricultural land or refuses to depart an emergency battered women's shelter when asked to leave. (Minn. Stat. §§ 609.033, 609.605 (2020).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have been charged with burglary, criminal trespass, or a related crime, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights. Be sure to ask your attorney about the immediate and future consequences of a criminal conviction. Having a criminal record can impact your ability to get a job, housing, or loan in the future.

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