Burglary In Melbourne
Section 76 of the Crimes Act 1958 contains the offence of burglary that applies in Melbourne and the rest of Victoria. If a person enters a building as a trespasser with the intent to steal, commit a serious assault or cause serious damage to property, they can be charged with this offence. The maximum penalty for burglary in Melbourne and elsewhere in Victoria is 10 years imprisonment.
What is burglary in Melbourne?
A person can be charged with burglary in Melbourne if they enter a house or other premises as a trespasser with the intent of committing certain offences. A person can also be charged with burglary if they enter a vehicle or vessel that is inhabited as a trespasser with intent to commit certain offences, regardless of whether or not the person who lives there is present at the time or not.
The Victorian legislation defines burglary somewhat differently to that of other states and territories. In some other jurisdictions, a person can be found guilty of burglary if they enter a building unlawfully with intent to commit any indictable offence. In Victoria, burglary requires a person to have intended to commit one of the following three types of offence:
- An offence involving an assault that is punishable by imprisonment for five years or more;
- An offence involving damage to the building or property that is punishable by imprisonment for five years or more.
The Offence Of Aggravated Burglary in Melbourne
Section 77 of the Crimes Act 1958 also contains an offence of aggravated burglary, which occurs when a burglary is committed and there are circumstances of aggravation. The Act provides that a person is guilty of aggravated burglary where:
- they commit a burglary and have in their possession a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon, explosive or imitation explosive; or
- they enter the building with the knowledge that a person was present or being reckless as to whether or not a person was present in the building.
The maximum penalty for aggravated burglary is 25 years imprisonment.
What Actions Might Constitute Burglary Or Aggravated Burglary?
A burglary charge can arise out of a range of alleged facts. Acts that could result in a charge of burglary include:
- breaking into a house through the back door to steal a television;
- climbing through the window of a caravan to damage the inside; or
- entering a warehouse through the roof to damage stock.
Examples of acts that may result in a charge of aggravated burglary include the following:
- Breaking into a home to damage a person’s possessions, knowing they are upstairs in the home; or
- Entering business premises from which your employment has recently been terminated to damage the office using explosives.
What must be proven
To find an accused guilty of burglary, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused entered a building or part of a building
- The accused entered the building as a trespasser
- At the time of entering the building they intended to steal, assault or damage property.
To find a person guilty of aggravated burglary, the prosecution must also prove each of the following:
- The person had in their possession a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon, explosive or imitation explosive; or
- At the time of entering the building the person knew or was reckless as to whether there was a person in the building.
A person charged with the offence of burglary or aggravated burglary in Melbourne or elsewhere in Victoria can defend the charge by relying on a legal defence.
Absence of intent
If the accused cannot be proven to have intended to commit an indictable offence, they cannot be found guilty of burglary. If no indictable offence was actually committed and the prosecution cannot satisfactorily establish that the accused had the intent of committing an offence, the prosecution fails.
They did not enter as a trespasser
A person is not guilty of burglary in Melbourne or elsewhere in Victoria if they did not enter the building as a trespasser. If a person entered a building legally, they cannot be found guilty of burglary.
There are also a number of factual defences that a person charged with burglary can rely on. These include that it is a case of mistaken identity, that they have an alibi or that the building was not, in fact, entered.
If a person is charged with burglary or aggravated burglary and there is property alleged to have been stolen that is valued at under $100,000, the matter may be dealt with summarily. This means that the matter will be finalised in the Magistrates Court if the accuse dis an adult or in the Children’s Court if they are a child, provided the defence and prosecution consent to this.
If the value of property stolen exceeds $100,000, or if there are circumstances of aggravation alleged, the matter will be heard on indictment, meaning it must be committed to the County Court or Supreme Court of Victoria.
If you require legal advice or representation in relation to burglary in Melbourne or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.