Breaking and Entering Misdemeanor (266/16A), Felony (266/18), Depository (266/16), Person in Fear (266/17)
Variety of Breaking and Entering Charges
Under Massachusetts General Laws, you can be charged with Breaking and Entering to to boats, vessels, houses, and vehicles. These charges are differentiated based on the time of day or night when the event occurred and, more importantly, based on the intent of the person doing the entering.
Intent to Commit a Felony
Unless the police have reason to believe otherwise, they will probably charge breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony. This element is of crucial importance because it is what divides the misdemeanor and felony versions of the charge of breaking and entering.
The presumption of innocence, however, does not work the way the police do. The Commonwealth has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had the specific intent to commit a felony inside. As a rule, you should always plan on fighting felony charges and should always consult an attorney if you are charged with breaking and entering.
Aggravating Factors Making Breaking a Felony
If the breaking was made upon a building or vehicle with the intent to commit a felony, or the entering was made upon a home at night, or if the police allege that there was a further attempt to break into a safe or depository (cash register) the offense is a felony. If the police allege that you were armed with a firearm at the time of the breaking and entering, or that someone inside was placed in fear as a result, unless the evidence is very weak, there is a very real possibility of a mandatory five year prison sentence.
Police and judges take charges of breaking and entering very seriously. Judges in the Commonwealth will impose punishments that are several degrees above what is indicated on a person's criminal history in cases of breaking and entering.
The police are trained to believe that breakings are committed in strings, and thoroughly pursue the cases, trying to link a suspect to as many breakings as possible. As a result, charges of breaking and entering are often brought well after the fact, and frequently involve attempts by the police to solicit a confession. Whether that confession will be admissible is a legal question for which you should consult an attorney.
Moreover, any time that police bring charges weeks or even months after the crime occurred the chances are good that there is more to the story than the police have uncovered. Evidence must be found and preserved to make a clear defense, and you need an attorney to advise you regarding the particular charges and facts of your case.
If you or someone you know has been charged with breaking and entering, contact me today to set up a free and confidential consultation.