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.
In Minnesota, burglary is defined as:
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.
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.
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permission, (2) entering a building through false pretenses, or (3) by remaining in the building after the owner has withdrawn consent for the person to be there.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).)
A person commits burglary in the first degree when the crime involves:
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.
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:
Penalties include up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
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.
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).)
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.)
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:
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).)
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.