Dwelling and Non-dwelling burglary

Section 9 of the Theft Act 1968 creates two offences that both require proof that the defendant entered any building or part of building as a trespasser. There must also be an additional element concerning the intention or the actions of the defendant whilst in the building.

Section 9(1)(a) requires proof that the entry took place with the intention of:

  • stealing
  • inflicting GBH; or
  • committing unlawful damage.

Section 9(1)(b) requires proof that after the entry took place the defendant:

  • stole or attempted to steal anything; or
  • inflicted grievous bodily harm upon a person or attempted to do so.

Use of force:

The offence of burglary may be committed where there is a trespass accompanied by the use of or an intention to use force.

Where a burglary involves theft and force is used immediately before or at the time of stealing (or attempting to steal) the defendant may have committed an offence of robbery. Prosecutors normally charge robbery, where robbery can be made out rather than burglary (or aggravated burglary).

  • Robbery is a straightforward concept easily understood by juries.
  • It can take place inside a private dwelling or commercial property as well as outside.
  • It clearly reflects the use or threat of force.
  • It is automatically an indictable only offence.
  • It provides the court with greater sentencing powers as the maximum sentence is life imprisonment and the Guideline sentencing range is wider.
  • It is a specified offence under Schedule 15 Criminal Justice Act 2003 (‘dangerous offenders’) for the purposes of sentencing.

Aggravated burglary

A person is guilty of aggravated burglary under section 10(1) of the Theft Act 1968 if he commits any burglary within section 9 and at the time has with him any weapon. For this purpose, ‘weapon’ means any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person or intended by the person having it with him for such use.

If a firearm or imitation firearm is carried, that fact can and will likely lead to specific charges being laid under the Firearms Act 1968.

A simple burglary is unlikely to be charged where a weapon has been carried, used or threatened. However, it must be proved that the defendant was in possession of the relevant weapon at the relevant time.

Third strike dwelling burglary

A conviction for a ‘third strike’ dwelling burglary makes a defendant aged 18 or over liable to a minimum sentence of 3 years, in accordance with section 314 Sentencing Act 2020. The court must impose a sentence of at least 3 years in custody, unless the court can be persuaded that it would be “unjust” in all the circumstances to impose such a sentence.

Maximum sentence

The maximum sentence for burglary of a building other than a dwelling is 10 years’ imprisonment. The maximum for burglary of a dwelling is 14 years. The maximum sentence for aggravated burglary is imprisonment for life.

If you are facing an allegation of burglary, then it is essential that you take immediate legal advice from one of our expert Solicitors at SCM Law.

If you would like to discuss anything with us, please get in touch.