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Burglary, the offence of entering the dwelling of another person with the intent to commit a crime, is created by section 419 of the Queensland Criminal Code and, in its least serious form punishable by 14 years imprisonment.

If you unlawfully enter a place that it is not a dwelling, you might commit the separate offence of entering a premises with intent to commit a crime.

Common penalties imposed for such a charge are:

The Offence of Burglary:

Section 419 of the Queensland Criminal Code provides:

“Any person who enters or is in the dwelling of another with intent to commit an indictable offence in the dwelling commits a crime. Maximum penalty – 14 years imprisonment.”

The term “dwelling” has a wide meaning under the Act and includes a building or even part of a building used as a residence, regardless if it is occasionally uninhabited.

The offence of burglary differs from a simple trespass in that to be guilty of burglary it must be proved that you intended to commit an offence while inside a dwelling.

It is common for a charge of burglary to be laid in addition to a charge for an offence committed while inside the dwelling (for example assault, rape, wilful damage of property).

What Actions Might Constitute Burglary?

  • Entering a neighbours house through a back door left ajar with the intention of stealing their possessions.
  • Reaching through an open window of a house attempting to steal a wallet from a bedside table.
  • Entering a house through an open front door with the intention of seriously assaulting the occupant.

What the Police Must Prove:

The police must prove three things in order for you to be convicted:

  • That you entered the dwelling, or are in the dwelling of another;
  • That you did so with the intent to commit an offence; and
  • That the offence you intended to commit was an indictable offence.

There must be evidence that you intended to commit some form of indictable offence.

Possible Defences for Burglary:

  • Identity – it wasn’t you who entered the building;
  • You didn’t have the necessary intent to commit an indictable offence;
  • The premises was not a dwelling;
  • You didn’t enter the dwelling;
  • Duress – you were forced to enter the dwelling.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Burglary, in its least serious form, can be heard and determined in the Magistrates Court or the District Court depending on the circumstances of the case.

Types of Penalties:

Imprisonment : Even though it is not a sentence of last resort (as it is in some other states) imprisonment is the most serious penalty which a court can impose upon a person. At its most severe a sentence of imprisonment means that a person must spend a specified period of time within a correctional facility, also called a prison, a jail or a gaol. Read more.

Intensive corrections order (ICO): An Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’ for short) is, technically, a form of imprisonment but which is served wholly in the community. This means that a person who is made subject to an ICO will not spend any time in prison but will, instead, be required to adhere to a number of requirements that the court will order. Read more.

Probation: A court can make a Probation Order either by itself, meaning the whole of the sentence is probation, or as a component of a sentence of imprisonment, meaning that a person is ordered to serve a period of time (not longer than 1 year) in prison and is then subject to a probation requirement upon release. Read more.

Community service order(CSO): As the name implies, a Community Service Order (‘CSO’ for short) is an order which requires a person to perform unpaid work, normally at some kind of community facility, for a stated number of hours (to a maximum of 240) within a nominated time (usually 6 or 12 months). Read More.

Recognisance: A recognisance is a promise which a person makes to be of good behaviour for a stated period of time. A court is empowered to release a person who enters into a recognisance, either with a surety, which is a sum of money which the person agrees to pay if they breach the recognisance, or without one. Read More.

Fines: A court is empowered to impose a fine, which is a sum of money which a person is required to pay to the State, for any offence regardless of whether the law creating it nominates a fine as part of the applicable penalty. Read More.

Section 19 dismissal: A court can discharge a person absolutely, or upon them entering into a recognisance, without recording a conviction against them, if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so. Read More.

In all cases where you are sentenced to a penalty other than jail, the Court can choose not to record a conviction against you, meaning your criminal record will remain clear and any complications with work or travel may be avoided.

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