Break and Enter with Intent’ Offence in NSW

Break and Enter with Intent in NSW: Unpacking the Offence, Penalties, and Notable Cases

In the diverse world of criminal law in New South Wales (NSW), the ‘Break and Enter with Intent to Commit a Serious Indictable Offence’ offence stands out as a particularly significant one. This offence encapsulates scenarios where an individual unlawfully enters a property solely intending to commit a serious crime, even if the intended crime isn’t eventually carried out. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of this offence, the potential penalties upon conviction and highlight some notable prosecutions that have taken place in NSW.

Defining the Offence of Break and Enter with Intent

At its core, ‘Break with Intent’ refers to instances where an individual breaks into and enters a dwelling house or other building with the clear intent of committing a serious indictable offence therein. The essence of this crime is the intent, as the actual commission of the intended crime is not necessary for a charge or conviction.

Penalties for Break and Enter with Intent

Given the potential harm and threat to personal security, the NSW legal system treats this offence with considerable gravity. The penalties for this offence can be quite severe, reflecting its serious nature:

  • If the offence is committed in circumstances of aggravation, the offender can face imprisonment for up to 14 years.
  • If committed in the company of another person, imprisonment can extend up to 20 years.
  • In cases where no special circumstances are evident, the legal system still imposes a stringent penalty, with the maximum term of imprisonment set at 10 years.

Examples of Prosecutions

To further underscore the seriousness with which the NSW courts view this offence, let’s consider some notable prosecutions:

  1. R v. Smith (2018) In this case, the accused was caught on CCTV breaking into a Sydney’s North Shore residence. Although no items were stolen, the footage clearly showed Smith rummaging through personal belongings, reinforcing the intent to commit a crime. Smith was sentenced to five years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years.
  2. R v. Martinez (2020) Martinez was charged after forcibly entering a warehouse, presumably to steal high-value electronics based on the evidence found on his person (including a list of specific items). Although he was apprehended before any items were taken, his clear intention led to a six-year sentence with a non-parole period of four years.
  3. R v. Liu (2019) Liu attempted to break into a suburban home, seemingly intending to commit assault, as suggested by threatening notes left at the scene on previous occasions. Captured before he could encounter the occupants, he was nevertheless sentenced to eight years in prison for the gravity of his intended offence.

In Conclusion

‘Break and Enter with Intent to Commit a Serious Indictable Offence’ in NSW is a distinct and significant crime. Even if the intended indictable offence isn’t completed, the very intent carries heavy penalties.  If facing such charges, it is imperative to seek legal counsel to navigate the complexities of the legal proceedings.