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What is the sentence for aggravated burglary?

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Facing an allegation of aggravated burglary can be incredibly distressing, particularly as the potential sentences for the offence can be extremely serious.

No matter what the surrounding circumstances may be, if you are accused of committing aggravated burglary, it is vital that you understand what actions the police could take and what potential outcome could be for your case.

Here, we discuss what aggravated burglary involves, how it differs from other similar offences and, importantly, what the current aggravated burglary sentencing guidelines look like.

What is aggravated burglary?

The offence of aggravated burglary is set out under Section 10 of the Theft Act 1968. According to this, the definition of aggravated burglary involves the act of trespassing by breaking and or entering a dwelling with the intent to steal, while also in possession of any firearm or imitation firearm, or any weapon.

It is important to note that, as with a standard burglary offence, the act of stealing does not need to have been successfully carried out or attempted. It is only necessary for the prosecution to demonstrate that there was an intention to steal. This is what differentiates the crime from an act of trespassing.

When does burglary become aggravated?

Burglary becomes ‘aggravated’ when a weapon of offence, firearm, imitation firearm, or explosive is involved. A standard burglary involves an act of trespassing or breaking and entering with the intent to commit a crime. The offence is also complete if something is stolen, or an attempt is made once you have trespassed.

What is a weapon under the Theft Act?

Under the Theft Act, a ‘weapon’ is described as being one of the following:

  • A firearm or imitation firearm
    • A lethal barrelled weapon
    • A prohibited weapon
    • A relevant component in relation to a lethal barrelled weapon
    • An accessory to a lethal barrelled weapon
  • A weapon of offence
    • An object made or modified to cause injury or incapacitate a person
  • An explosive
    • Any object made to produce a practical effect through an explosion

What is the difference between robbery and aggravated burglary?

Robbery is a serious crime and does have some similarities to aggravated burglary. That said, there are also a number of very important distinctions between the two offences.

Robbery involves someone taking property from another person using force or the threat of force. Aggravated burglary takes place when someone is guilty of trespassing, breaking or entering a property and the act of stealing does not need to have taken place.

What is the difference between burglary and aggravated burglary?

Understandably, there is often some confusion between burglary and aggravated burglary. Burglary is the offence of illegally trespassing by entering a building with intent (or other enclosed structure) without permission.

This requires a trespass with intention to steal or commit a GBH. There is possession of a weapon which is what would elevate the offence to aggravated burglary if a weapon is involved.

What is the difference between aggravated burglary and aggravated criminal damage?

Aggravated criminal damage is defined as an act of intentionally or recklessly causing damage to the property of another person to endanger life.

Is aggravated burglary a serious offence?

Yes, aggravated burglary is considered to be a very serious offence. Due to the violent nature of the offence, it is considered to be more serious that simple burglary, and other related offences such as robbery.

This means that aggravated burglary sentencing guidelines are extremely harsh.

What is the sentence for aggravated burglary?

According to Sentencing Council, the sentence for aggravated burglary can vary substantially depending on a wide range of factors.

The offence range is between 1 to 13 years’ custody. This is determined by the court’s assessment of an offender’s culpability and harm, as well as the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors.

Culpability is demonstrated by one or more of the following:

A – High culpability

  • Targeting of vulnerable victim
  • A significant degree of planning or organisation

B – Medium culpability

  • Some degree of planning or organisation
  • Other cases that fall between categories A and C because:
    • Factors are present in A and C which balance each other out and/or
    • The offender’s culpability falls between the factors described in A and C

C – Lower culpability

  • Involved through coercion, intimidation or exploitation
  • Mental disorder or learning disability, where linked to the commission of the offence

The level of harm is assessed by weighing up the following factors:

Category 1 harm

  • Violence or serious violence used or threatened
  • Significant injury (physical or psychological) caused by the offender
  • Substantial emotional impact on the victim
  • Theft of property caused substantial damage to victim
  • Soiling of property or extensive damage caused
  • Offence committed in the context of the public sector

Category 2 harm

  • Violence threatened but not used
  • Moderation physical or psychological impact on the victim
  • Theft caused moderate degree of loss to victim
  • Moderate damage or disturbance to property

Category 3

  • No violence used or threatened
  • Limited physical or psychological injury caused to victim

As you might expect, where there is a higher level of harm and perceived culpability for a crime, the aggravated burglary sentence handed out is likely to be much higher. Where the opposite is true (i.e. lower harm and perceived culpability), the sentence for aggravated burglary will be less severe.

What is the maximum sentence for aggravated burglary?

The maximum sentence you could face for aggravated burglary is life imprisonment, highlighting just how serious this offence is treated by the courts.

Are there any aggravating or mitigating factors for aggravated burglary?

There are a wide range of aggravating and mitigating factors that are likely to determine the severity of the aggravated burglary sentence that is handed out.

Statutory aggravating factors could include:

  • Previous convictions
  • Offence committed on bail
  • Offence motivated by hostility towards a protected characteristic

Other aggravating factors include:

  • Use of a face covering or disguise
  • Offence committed in residential dwelling
  • Child present while offence was committed
  • Offence committed at night
  • Abuse of power
  • Restraint or detention of victim
  • Vulnerable victim
  • Offence committed as part of a group
  • Steps taken to prevent victim from reporting incident
  • Offence committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Established community impact

Mitigating factors could include:

  • Nothing stolen, or items stolen having little impact on victim
  • No previous convictions
  • Remorse shown
  • Previous good character or exemplary conduct
  • Offer of voluntary reparation to victim
  • Age and/or lack of maturity
  • Sole or primary carer for dependent relatives
  • Mental disorder or disability

What should I do if I’m accused of aggravated burglary?

If you have been arrested, or are under investigation, for aggravated burglary, it is absolutely essential that you speak to an expert criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible.

As we have discussed, the aggravated sentencing guidelines for aggravated burglary are severe, which demonstrates how important it is for you to clearly understand your position, your legal rights, and if any actions would harm your defence.

Speaking to a solicitor at any stage will never undermine your legal defence, nor will it indicate any level of guilt. You are entitled to legal representation at any stage and instructing a solicitor will often mean the difference when it comes to avoiding charges, or receiving a lesser sentence where conviction is unavoidable.

At JD Spicer Zeb, our criminal defence solicitors have substantial experience and expertise in utilising the various defence strategies that can be used against allegations of aggravated burglary. As such, we are well positioned to support you if you are in such a position.

Contact our criminal defence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation, or to speak to us confidentially about allegations of aggravated burglary, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our dedicated armed robbery solicitors in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

24/7 legal representation for criminal defence allegations

Please get in touch for a free initial consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice on dealing with allegations relating to aggravated burglary.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number 07836 577 556.


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