Burglary Lawyer

Criminal Defense Lawyer John L. Calcagni, III

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Burglary is a common felony that is defined as the breaking and entering of the dwelling house of another, during the nighttime, with the intent to commit a felony therein.  Under Rhode Island criminal law, the felony offense of Burglary may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-8-1.

Legal Elements of Burglary

In order to be convicted of Burglary, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:

  1. that the defendant did break and enter the residence of another
  2. at night
  3. with the intent to commit a felony therein

For the purposes of this offense, the term “break” means to exert any degree of force in order to gain entry. Slight force is sufficient. In other words, it is the use of force, no matter how slight.  A “dwelling house” means a person’s home or any habitable building or place, whether a house or an apartment.  

Furthermore, a felony does not have to actually occur during the course of the burglary in order for this crime to be complete.  The defendant solely needs to break and enter into the property with the specific intent to commit any felony inside.   The fact that the intended felony was not ultimately committed is not a legal defense or will not enable an accused to avoid a burglary conviction.  A person acts with a specific intent when that person acts deliberately and purposefully, with the intention of causing the required bad or improper end result.

Examples of Burglary

Burglary usually involves the same type of conduct as breaking and entering except that the breaking and entering was done with the intent to commit another felony crime once inside the structure.  Some examples of burglary include the following:

  • Breaking into an abandoned building to steal items inside.
  • Breaking into an abandoned building to sell drugs.
  • Entering an open or unlocked building without permission to steal what is inside.
  • Breaking into an occupied structure to sexually assault another person inside.
  • Breaking into an occupied structure to seriously injure or kill another person inside.
  • Breaking into an occupied structure to kidnap another person inside.
  • Breaking into an occupied or unoccupied structure to set it or something in it on fire.
  • Breaking into an occupied or unoccupied structure to steal personal items contains inside such as money, jewelry, expensive paintings, a TV, or any other item of value.
  • Breaking into a vehicle to steal items located inside.

Potential Punishment if Convicted of Burglary in Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island criminal law, a defendant convicted of burglary shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for any term of years, but not less than 5 years. This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-8-1.


If you have been implicated in a burglary and need expert legal representation, contact the RI Property Defense Lawyers at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.