Burglary, Breaking and Entering, and Criminal Trespass in Ohio

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

By , Attorney · University of Houston Law Center
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated November 30, 2023

A person who commits burglary or aggravated burglary in Ohio can face serious felony penalties, including lengthy terms of imprisonment and hefty fines. Breaking and entering carries a low-level felony penalty. Trespass can result in misdemeanor or felony penalties.

Generally speaking, trespass involves going onto someone else's property without permission, and the law defines burglary as a trespass plus intent to commit any crime (felony or misdemeanor) inside occupied structures. Breaking and entering involves a trespass of an unoccupied structure or land and intent to commit a felony or theft.

What Is a Burglary Crime in Ohio?

A person commits burglary when, by force, stealth, or deception, they trespass in an occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. Let's break down this definition a bit more.

Trespass. A trespass occurs when a person enters or remains in a structure without permission to be there.

Occupied structures. Burglary crimes apply to occupied structures that are maintained or used as a permanent or temporary dwelling or habitation or for overnight accommodation. Occupied structures can include buildings, vehicles, trailers, or outbuildings used for those same purposes. The term "occupied" refers only to the structure's intended use and doesn't necessarily mean a person is present in the structure.

Force. An offender uses force when they use any type of physical effort to gain entry into the structure. Examples of force can be as simple as turning a doorknob or pushing open a door.

Stealth. A person uses stealth when they covertly avoid discovery to gain entry into the structure or remain therein. An illustration of such action would be when an individual enters a home without knocking, ringing the doorbell, or getting permission to go inside.

Deception. A person employs deceit when they use trickery or fraud to mislead someone. For instance, a defendant used deceit when he entered a corporate building well-dressed in order to blend in with the other building occupants and gain entry to steal their computers.

(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2909.01, 2911.12 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Burglary and Aggravated Burglary in Ohio?

Ohio law divides burglary into separate categories, each incurring prison terms according to the severity of the crime. The penalties increase when the risk of harm to a victim increases, such as when the structure is occupied or the defendant threatens harm or possesses a weapon.

Burglary: Felony of the Third Degree

A person commits a third-degree felony by unlawfully entering or remaining in an occupied structure with the intent to commit a criminal offense inside. This burglary crime doesn't require that another person be present or likely be present in the structure. The offender faces incarceration time ranging from 9 months to 3 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Longer prison terms may apply in certain situations.

Burglary: Felony of the Second Degree

Ohio law provides for two types of second-degree felony burglary. A conviction for a felony of the second degree generally comes with a minimum and mandatory prison sentence ranging from 2 to 12 years and a fine of up to $15,000.

Burglary of habitation when a person is present or likely to be. This form of second-degree burglary includes unauthorized entry or continued presence in a habitation with the intent to commit a crime inside and when another person is, or is likely to be, present in or around the habitation.

Burglary of occupied structure with a person present. This second-degree felony occurs when someone, with the intent to commit a crime inside, enters or remains unauthorized in any type of occupied structure 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).

Aggravated Burglary: Felony of the First Degree

Burglary involving an occupied structure with a person present increases to first-degree aggravated burglary when the offender either:

  • possesses a weapon or dangerous explosive device, or
  • inflicts or threatens to inflict physical harm on someone (other than an accomplice).

Penalties for first-degree aggravated burglary in Ohio include a prison term ranging from 3 to 16.5 years and a fine of not more than $20,000. Enhanced penalties may also apply.

(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2911.11, 2911.12, 2929.14, 2929.18 (2023).)

Breaking-and-Entering Crimes and Penalties in Ohio

Ohio law has a separate crime prohibiting breaking and entering. Under this law, it's a crime to enter an unoccupied structure by force, stealth, or deception, with the intent to commit any theft or felony. Trespassing on the land of another with the purpose to commit any felony constitutes breaking and entering as well.

This offense is less serious than burglary because it involves land or a structure that is both unoccupied and nonresidential (such as an abandoned warehouse). Additionally, the criminal purpose is limited to theft offenses and felonies.

A person who commits breaking and entering is guilty of a fifth-degree felony and faces 6 to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2911.13, 2929.14, 2929.18 (2023).)

Criminal Trespass Laws and Penalties in Ohio

As noted above, trespass forms one of the elements of burglary. Unlike burglary, trespass does not require that the offender intend to commit a crime (with one exception noted below). Ohio law recognizes three forms of trespass: criminal trespass, aggravated trespass, and trespass of a habitation.

Criminal Trespass Penalties

Several different activities constitute criminal trespass.

Knowing trespass. Knowingly entering or remaining on someone else's land or premises without permission.

Reckless defiance of notice. Recklessly entering or remaining on someone else's property when notice against access or presence is given. Notice can be accomplished in several ways, including direct communication, signage, or a fenced enclosure.

Negligent failure to leave. Negligently failing or refusing to leave someone else's property after the owner, occupant, or signage instructed or notified the intruder of the trespass.

Knowing entry of critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure includes refineries, electric generating facilities and substations, chemical plants, water and sewage plants, natural gas facilities and pipelines, telecommunication and transmission infrastructure (towers and lines), government dams, storage and tanks for oil, gas, or any hazardous material, mining operations, railroads, and a number of other utility properties.

With the exception of trespass on critical infrastructure, criminal trespass is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Violators face penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Trespass on critical infrastructure is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Aggravated Trespass Penalties

A person commits aggravated trespass by:

  • entering or remaining on private land or premises without permission, while intending to commit a misdemeanor involving actual or threatened physical harm to another, or
  • entering or remaining on critical infrastructure property intending to tamper with or cause damage to the facility.

Aggravated trespass involving critical infrastructure is a felony of the third degree, punishable by 9 months to 3 years of prison time and a fine of up to $10,000. Otherwise, aggravated trespass is a first-degree misdemeanor with penalties of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Penalties for Trespass in a Habitation

Trespass in a habitation constitutes a fourth-degree felony and involves an offender trespassing in a permanent or temporary habitation when any person is present or likely to be present. Such an offender faces incarceration time of six to 18 months and a fine of not more than $5,000.

(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2911.12, 2911.21 2911.211, 2929.24, 2929.28 (2023).)

Talk to a Lawyer

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

Talk to a Defense attorney
We've helped 95 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you