Section 4.4: Burglary

Fundamentals of Criminal Law by Adam J. McKee

In Section 4.4, we delve into the crime of burglary, a complex and evolving legal concept. Historically rooted in common law, burglary was originally defined as the breaking and entering of a dwelling at night with the intent to commit a felony therein. This narrow definition, however, has undergone significant transformation over time, adapting to the changing nature of society and criminal behavior.

We start by exploring the roots of burglary in common law, understanding its original elements and the rationale behind them. Why was it limited to night-time? Why only dwellings? These questions provide valuable insights into the historical context of criminal law.

Moving forward, we examine statutory modifications that have broadened the scope of burglary. Legislative changes have redefined the offense, extending it to cover a wider range of structures beyond dwellings, including commercial buildings. Furthermore, the temporal restriction of night-time has been lifted in many jurisdictions, and the required intent has evolved to include the intent to commit any theft or felony, not just felonies.

In this section, we will dissect these changes, understanding their implications and how they reflect societal shifts in perceptions of property, privacy, and criminality.


Modification History

File Created:  07/17/2018

Last Modified:  10/30/2023

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

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