Burglary - Charges, Penalties and Sentencing - Armstrong Legal Canberra

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Burglary (ACT)


The offence of burglary in the ACT is contained in section 311 of the Criminal Code 2002. A person commits the offence if they enter or remain in a building as a trespasser, with an intent to either steal property, commit an offence involving violence or property damage, or commit any offence carrying a penalty of at least five years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for burglary in the ACT is a fine of 1400 penalty units and/or 14 years imprisonment.

What is burglary?

The offences of burglary involves entering or remaining in a building. The definition of “building” includes part of a building, a mobile home or caravan, and a structure, vehicle or vessel that is used, designed or adapted for residential purposes.

In order to prove a person guilty of burglary, the prosecution must establish that they remained on the premises and intended to:

  • commit theft of property from those premises, or
  • commit another offence involving violence or property damage, or
  • commit any offence carrying a penalty of at least five years imprisonment.

Possible Defences to burglary

A person charged with burglary in the ACT may defend the charge by relying on one of the following legal defences.

Absence of intent

A person is not guilty of burglary if they entered a building for a legitimate purpose. If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the intent to commit an indictable offence, they must be acquitted.

Duress

A person is not guilty of a criminal offence if they committed an act only because of threats that were made to them of death or serious harm. If a person can establish that they were subjected to such threats and that the threats were so serious in nature that they would have caused a reasonable person to acquiesce, they will be found not guilty on the basis of duress

There are also factual defences that can be relied on in defending a burglary charge, such as the existence of an alibi or mistaken identification.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Burglary can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court or Children’s Court provided the value of the property involved (not including a motor vehicle) does not exceed $30 000 (under Section 375 of the Crimes Act 1900).

Burglary can also be dealt with on indictment in the District Court.

For advice or representation in any legal issue, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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