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Breaking and Entering Law Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania breaking and entering law defines the act as entering any portion of a building pr any occupied structure with an intent to commit a crime. The individual was not allowed to enter the premises and had the intention of breaking into the building and committing a crime.

According to Pennsylvania breaking and entering law, it is important to prove that the individual had the intention of breaking into the premises and commit a crime once inside. A person cannot be asserted guilty of breaking and entering laws if the intent to cause harm cannot be proven.

  • An individual can only be charged with breaking and entering law in the state of Pennsylvania if they are guilty of at least one of the following:
  • Breaking in any structure through the use of brute force, intimidating or threatening a security guard to get into the structure, unauthorized opening of locks, getting into the premises through a place which is not designed for human access, such as a window.
  • Sneaking into a structure illegally, without the knowledge of the owner or caretaker.
  • Ignoring "No Trespassing" signs that have been put up in order to deter people from entering the property without permission. In addition, entering a property despite clearly seeing the signage put up, including other warning signs such as fences designed to keep people out.
Breaking and Entering Law Pennsylvania
  • The individual threatens the owner of the property or anyone else who was on the premises at the time in a bid to enter forcefully.
  • The individual enters the premises with malicious and criminal intent, for example starting a fire, killing someone, or physically assaulting someone. The individual has the intention to either harm the building or its occupants in some manner.
  • The individual trespassed with an intention to deface or damage the property through acts such as tagging it or burning it.

Punishment for Breaking and Entering in Pennsylvania

If an individual commits a crime in addition to breaking and entering, then they will not be charged with the additional crime unless it was a First or a Second Degree Felony. These crimes are charged separately, meaning that the individual will be charged for breaking and entering and the activities they did while inside.

Since breaking and entering law in Pennsylvania works in tandem with burglary laws, an individual convicted of criminal trespassing will be charged with a First Degree Felony. This carries prison time of up to 20 years. In addition, the judge may use their own discretion and slap on an additional fine if they see the need for it.

Further punishment for breaking and entering in Pennsylvania constitutes a Second Degree Felony if the individual did not break in with an intention to stay overnight, or if no one was inside the premises during the time of the break-in. The second-degree felony charge can carry prison time of up to 10 years, in addition to a fine as the judge sees fit.

Punishment for Breaking and Entering in Pennsylvania
Defenses For Breaking and Entering Laws in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania allows an individual accused of breaking and entering to defend themselves. Common defenses regarding breaking and entering law in Pennsylvania include:

  • The individual believed the building to be abandoned at the time of entering it.
  • The individual did not know that entry to the premises was restricted and believed it to be public property with unrestricted access.
  • The individual was under the impression that they were not trespassing and would be allowed to remain on the premises if found by the owner.

Having enough evidence to prove that you genuinely believed any of the above to be true is paramount in absolving you of breaking and entering charges in the state of Pennsylvania.

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