Break and Enter Offences And Penalties In NSW

Understanding Break Offences in NSW

Break-and-enter offences are not taken lightly in New South Wales (NSW). Known to cause significant distress and harm to victims, these crimes are pursued aggressively by the legal system. Understanding the intricacies of these offences, from their types to potential defences, is essential for anyone implicated in such cases. This article provides a deep dive into the realm of break-and-enter offences in NSW.

Types of Break Offences

Basic Break

This involves entering a property without the owner’s consent with the intent to commit a crime, typically theft.

Break, Enter, and Steal

Here, the perpetrator breaks to steal property.

Break, Enter with Intent to Commit a Serious Indictable Offence

This might include intentions of committing crimes such as assault or damage to property.

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors can escalate the severity of the offence. These may include:

  • Being armed with a weapon
  • In the company of others during the offence
  • Inflicting bodily harm to anyone present
  • Knowing someone was home during the act


Penalties vary depending on the offence’s severity and any aggravating circumstances:

  • Basic Break: Imprisonment up to 10 years.
  • With Aggravating Circumstances: Penalties can rise to 14 years or even 20 years if committed in circumstances of special aggravation (e.g., armed with a weapon causing grievous bodily harm).

Defences to Break Charges

  1. Lack of Intent: Proving that there was no criminal intent upon entering the property.
  2. Consent: Establishing that there was permission from the owner to enter the premises.
  3. Mistaken Identity: Arguing that the accused was not the actual offender.
  4. Duress or Necessity: Demonstrating that the accused was forced into the act or it was essential for preventing greater harm.

Court Proceedings

Break offences are typically dealt with in the District Court. However, less severe cases might be addressed in the Local Court, especially without aggravating factors.

Sentencing and Appeals

When sentencing, the court considers the nature and severity of the offence, any previous criminal record, the presence of aggravating factors, and other pertinent circumstances. As with many criminal proceedings in NSW, an individual has the right to appeal a break-and-enter conviction or the severity of the sentence. Appeals are generally made to a higher court to reconsider the case.


Break offences in NSW are approached with seriousness and vigour by the legal system, given the significant violation they represent. Individuals accused of such offences face severe penalties and repercussions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the offence, its intricacies, and potential defences. If faced with such a charge, seeking prompt legal advice and representation is imperative.