Each state has its own laws defining burglary, attempted burglary, home invasion (the burglary of a dwelling), and trespass. And penalties vary according to the circumstances of the crime, as described below.
In Minnesota, burglary is defined as breaking and entering into any structure with the intent to commit a felony therein; or breaking and entering and subsequently committing a crime. These two parts of the definition are known as the “elements” of the crime of burglary.
To be convicted of burglary, both elements of the crime must be proved beyond a 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 (or that the defendant actually committed a crime, even if there was no original intent). 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.
The first element of the crime of burglary—entering—may be accomplished in two ways: by entering or breaking into property that you don’t have permission to enter in the first place, or by remaining on property after the time you are permitted to be there has expired.
An example of the second scenario includes legally entering a department store during business hours, but then hiding when the store closes to the public in order to steal merchandise after hours. It also includes attending a dinner party, but remaining in the house once other guests have gone without your dinner hosts’ invitation or permission, with the intent to assault someone in the home or to steal something from it.
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 felony or theft, and then entered the building (or stayed beyond the permitted time) for that purpose. In this scenario, the intended crime does not have to have actually been completed; the intent itself satisfies the second element.
Alternately, the second element may satisfied with proof that the defendant actually committed a crime after unlawfully entering the structure, even if it is clear that the crime was one of “convenience” that the defendant decided to commit after getting inside the building.
Home invasion is the same crime as burglary except that the burglary was committed in a dwelling (a place used for lodging, like a house or apartment). As such, home invasion requires the same elements of entry and intent to commit a crime inside (or committing an actual crime without the prior intent), as described above.
However, because the burglary of a dwelling occurs in such a personal and private location and can cause more trauma for the dwelling’s residents, it incurs more severe penalties than the same crime committed in other buildings (described below).
Burglary is broken into several categories, and punished according to the circumstances of the crime.
Burglary in the first degree includes burglary of a dwelling when either another person is present (like a resident of the house, but not including an accomplice), the defendant possessed a dangerous weapon, or the defendant assaulted someone while committing the offense. Burglary in the first degree incurs at least six months in jail (and up to 20 years in prison), a fine of up to $35,000, or both.
Burglary in the second degree includes burglary of a dwelling or another specified building (such as a bank or pharmacy), when the defendant either entered the building by force or threat of force, or possessed tools to gain access to money or property. Penalties include a fine of up to $20,000, up to ten years in prison, or both.
Burglary in the third degree includes unlawful entry of buildings not listed above with the intent to steal or commit a felony or gross misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
Burglary in the fourth degree includes unlawful entry of buildings not listed for first or second degree burglary, with the intent to commit a misdemeanor (other than theft). Penalties include a fine of up to $3,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
(Mn. Stat. Ann. § 609.582.)
It is illegal to knowingly possess burglar’s tools with the intent to use them in (or permit them to be used for) a burglary. These include instruments for prying or burning through doors and vaults, or otherwise gaining entry or stealing from the property once inside. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to three years in prison, or both. (Mn. Stat. Ann. § 609.59.) For more information on how even everyday items can become burglar’s tools, see Burglary Tools.
Trespass includes knowingly entering onto private property without the authority to do so, and occurs on someone else’s “property” (which includes land) and is thus broader than burglary, which occurs upon entry into a building.
Several activities qualify as trespass, such as (but not limited to) permitting your domestic animals to enter someone else’s private land, tampering with a boundary line (such as a fence), or entering onto someone’s land to take fruit or vegetables growing on the premises.
Trespass is a misdemeanor, which may incur up to $1,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, or both. And increased penalties apply to trespass onto school or cemetery property while closed to the public, into an emergency battered women’s shelter, or onto certain agricultural land. (Mn. Stat. Ann. § 609.605.)
If you have been charged with burglary, criminal trespass, or a related crime, or if you have questions about state laws, consult an experienced 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.