Introduction - how is burglary defined in criminal law?
Burglary replaced the old offence of breaking and entering. The theft Act (1968) has created two seperate offences for burglary and in many, if not most cases, D will commit both offences. However, if they are separate, they can be defined like this:
9 (1) A person is guilty of burglary if...
9 1 A) he enters any building or part of a building as a trespasser and with intent to commit any such offence as is mentioned in subsection (2) below; or...
9 1 B) having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building or that part of it or inflicts or attempts to inflict on any person therein any grevous bodily harm.
2) the offences referred to in subsection (1) (a) above are offences of stealing anything in the building or part of a building in question, of inflicting on any person therein any grevious bodily harm and of doing unlawful damage to the building or anything therein.
4) references in subections 1 and 2 above to a building... shall also apply to an inhabited vehicle or vessel, and shall apply to any such vehicle or vessel at times when the person having a habitation in it is not there as well as at times when he is.
The meaning of THEREIN is explained at the bottom of this page.
LOOKS DAUNTING I KNOW! In other words...
There is a crucial difference between section 1A and section 1B of the theft act which concerns burglary (as shown above).
You can be guilty of s.9 1a if the theft act if you enter/tresspass in to a building WITH the intention to steal. but if not, and you form the intention while in the building, you are then guilty of s.9 1B of the theft act.
The Actus reus and mens rea of burglary
Actus reus elements of burglary which are common to both burglary offences. D must have:
ENTERED--> A BUILDING OR PART OF A BUILDING --> AS A TRESPASSER
Meaning of the different parts of the actus reus:
- Entry: The theft act does not seem to define the meaning of "entry". However, in the case of Collins (1973) the court of appeal offered some guidance. In collins, the defendent's conviction for quashed. The defendent, while drunk decided to climb into an open window whilst naked. A girl saw the person and assumed he was her boyfriend, and so pulled him inside. Whilst having sex with her, the girl realised he was not her boyfriend and pushed him out of the window. It was decided that for D to be convicted, the jury had to be convinced that D had to make an "effective and substantial" entry into the building. But the courts made it very clear that D did not have to have his entire body inside the building before he had entered it.