Break, Enter and Commit Serious Indictable Offences in NSW

Break, Enter and Commit Serious Indictable Offences in NSW: An Examination of the Law, Prosecutions, and Penalties

Break offences are serious matters within the New South Wales (NSW) jurisdiction. When this action is combined with the intent or actual commission of another serious indictable offence, the consequences become even more severe. Let’s delve into the details of this offence, and the penalties attached and explore some examples from recent legal history.

Understanding the Offence of Break and Enter

In NSW, ‘break and enter’ doesn’t only imply the act of breaking something to gain entry. It can include any unauthorised entry into a building or part of a building, including through an open window or door. When combined with committing a serious indictable offence (which refers to crimes punishable by imprisonment for five years or more), the offence’s gravity increases significantly.

Such indictable offences can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Theft or larceny
  • Assault
  • Damage or destruction of property
  • Sexual assault

Prosecutions and Burden of Proof

To successfully prosecute someone for breaking, entering, and committing a serious indictable offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the accused broke and entered a building (or part of it).
  • That, upon entry, they committed (or intended to commit) a serious indictable offence.

If the prosecution fails to prove either element, the accused may be acquitted, or the charges might be downgraded.

Notable Prosecutions for Break-and-Enter Offences

While every case is unique, several break-and-enter incidents have made headlines in NSW over the years:

  • 2017, Sydney Suburb: An individual was arrested after a series of break-ins. In one particular incident, after breaking into a home, he was found guilty of assaulting the homeowner before fleeing. He was later linked to other similar incidents in the area.
  • 2019, Rural NSW: A duo targeted several farms over a month, breaking and entering into barns and sheds, committing larceny. The stolen goods, ranging from tools to livestock, amounted to significant value. Once apprehended, their spree was dubbed a “rural crime wave” by local newspapers.

Penalties for breaking and entering and committing an offence

In NSW, the penalties for breaking, entering and committing a serious indictable offence are notably severe, reflecting the crime’s seriousness. The maximum penalties are:

  • If committed in circumstances of aggravation: Imprisonment for 20 years.
  • If committed in circumstances of special aggravation: Imprisonment for 25 years.
  • In any other case: Imprisonment for 14 years.

“Circumstances of aggravation” include situations where the offender is armed with a weapon, in the company of another person, or inflicts corporal violence, among others. “Special aggravation” includes circumstances where the offender intentionally or recklessly inflicts grievous bodily harm on any person or is armed with a firearm.


Break, entering and committing a serious indictable offence is a significant change in the NSW legal landscape. Those accused require expert legal representation, given the potential penalties. Being informed about the offence’s intricacies can also assist communities in understanding and preventing such crimes.