Trespass, Residential Entry and Burglary

Trespass, residential entry and burglary all involve someone invading the property of someone else.  However, the elements to prove each crime and the penalties involved are significantly different.  This week’s blog will take a look at each in order from least serious to most serious.
First we start out with the crime of trespass.  Everyone has seen the signs posted that say “no trespassing” or trespassers will be prosecuted, but how exactly does this crime work?
The trespass statute is rather lengthy in Indiana.  There are two primary sections though where you most commonly see charges.  First is, “A person who not having a contractual interest in the property, knowingly or intentionally enters the real property of another person after having been denied entry by the other person or that person’s agent”.  The second most common use of the statute is exactly the same as the first except that it anticipates the situation where someone refuses to leave someone else’s property after having been asked to leave.  In both instances, the “trespasser” must have been given some form of notice to not be where they are at, before they can be arrested for trespassing.  This is the reason you see people post “notice” on their properties.
In both of these situations the penalty is a class A misdemeanor and carries a possible year in jail.  However, if you have a prior trespass for having trespassed on the same property, then the charge is a Level 6 Felony.
Residential entry is the next higher form of crime involving entry onto or into someone else’s property.  This charge is a Level 6 Felony.  Residential entry is “A person who knowingly or intentionally breaks and enters the dwelling of another person commits residential entry, a Level 6 Felony.”  Obviously this is a more serious crime because it involves the actual breaking and entering of someone’s home.  If a person breaks and enters someone’s home without doing anything else then it is just residential entry.  The breaking and entering component can be met by the slightest of force including lifting a window or even pushing open and already partially opened door.
The next, and most serious of these types of crimes is burglary.  Burglary is defined as “A person who breaks and enters the building or structure of another person, with intent to commit a felony or theft in it commits burglary, a Level 5 felony.”  This is more serious because this involves breaking into someone’s home with the intent of committing some other crime.  Could be theft, rape or any of the like.  However, the nature of the burglary also directly affects the severity of the crime.
If the building is a dwelling that a person lives in, then it raises the crime to a Level 4 felony.  If someone suffers bodily injury during the commission of the burglary, then the crime becomes a Level 3 felony.  If the crime is committed armed with a deadly weapon or it results in serious bodily injury then it gets bumped up to a Level 2 felony.  If the building is a dwelling and someone sustains serious bodily injury, then the burglary gets moved up all the way to a Level 1 felony.
As can be seen the crimes involving entering the property of another can vary in their severity from a minor misdemeanor all the way up to a Level 1 felony, depending on the circumstances.  The old adage that “my home is my castle” is recognized by Indiana’s criminal code.  Should you find yourself charged with trespass, residential entry, or burglary contact the experienced criminal defense team at Banks & Brower for your free consultation at 317-870-0019 or by clicking here.