Burglary and Breaking & Entering

Burglary and Breaking and Entering are interchangeable terms for entering a building without permission with the intent to commit a crime, most often, theft.  In Rhode Island, breaking and entering is a felony and those convicted of breaking and entering face serious penalties.

In Rhode Island, the Burglary statute includes many subsections depending on the circumstances of the crime.  

            Attempted Breaking and Entering (R.I.G.L. 11-8-1.1) – holds that any person who attempts to commit breaking and entering by doing an overt act toward the commission of the offense, but fails in the attempt, shall be punished as if successful.  The key here is that an overt action must be made in attempting to enter the building.  Simply standing in the area is insufficient.

            Breaking and Entering of a Dwelling House (R.I.G.L. 11-8-2) is the most common statute under which defendants are arrested.  Essentially, you will be charged with this crime if you enter any building without permission.  The penalty for this offense is a sentence of not less than two (2) years and not more than ten (10) years for the first offense.

There are additional and more serious charges that can be added to the charge of breaking and entering, if certain conditions are met:

•    Breaking and entering when resident is on premises;
•    Breaking and entering the home of a resident 60 years of age or older;
•    Breaking and entering the home of a person who is severely impaired;
•    Breaking and entering with instruments relating to arson;
•    Possessing burglary tools;
•    Breaking and entering with felonious intent.

Each subsection contains very specific circumstances which must be met in order to obtain a conviction.  The first step in any defense is to ensure that you have been charged under the proper statute.  For instance, the State has the burden to prove that the resident was severely impaired, or that you entered the building with felonious intent.  If the State can not meet the burden, then the case may be dismissed.