Burglary: Criminal Justice


How the Definition of Burglary Has Changed From The old Common Laws

According to the old common definition of burglary, it refers to any form of unauthorized entry into another individual’s residence without his or her permission and with bad intentions at night (Herring, 2014). This definition emphasizes on the fact that one is to be considered a burglar, if and only if his or her entrance is strictly into another person’s home, and in this case without authority.

Even though not all burglars are thieves, it is assumed that their intention is always to commit crime (Mawby, 2013). However, the modern day definition differs from the previous one in that; any forced entry without authority during the day also amounts to burglary. The sense in this definition is that; burglary as a crime can also take place in the day and in any building that can house people and not just people’s homes.

An Analysis of Burglar Crimes

In most cases, burglars are people who have previously committed different types of crimes, or are doing it to meet their daily needs or requirements (Wright, R., & Decker, 2016). Most of them may be motivated to participate in burglary in order to acquire drugs, money or simply from peer pressure. Cases of burglary usually have a great impact on the affected people, as a criminal offence that involves forced entry or breakage, most of them are left in fear or psychological torture, and they feel insecure when left alone in their residence or business area (Herring, 2014).

There are two factors that have to be taken into consideration when associating an individual with being a burglar, these are; the ‘mens rea’, which in this case refers to the mental state of the burglar, or in other words, the burglar’s awareness of the fact that he or she could be committing a crime; and the ‘actus Reus’, which again refers to the burglar’s objective when committing the crime, or the motif behind his actions (Herring, 2014). Proving the existence of the above two factors is enough evidence to show that a burglary crime was committed.

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Secondly, although the law classifies burglary as a planned crime, several factors have to be considered while analyzing it (Mawby, 2013). These are; whether different but similar crimes have been committed alongside; or if the burglar committed a different crime after the forced entry.

For instance, burglary with physical violence and threats to the victims is a common crime. In this case, the burglar should be arraigned with two crimes; burglary and assault or depending with the crime committed after the forced entry (Herring, 2014). Nevertheless, a burglar takes time to learn and understand their targets’ routine, as such, there is a lot of stalking of their chosen targets to fully come up with a suitable plan, and this also amounts in a crime.

            Since not all burglars are stupid, trends in burglary crimes have changed from the way they occurred before to new styles in this century. Examples of modern day burglar crimes include: non-staff members in a school scenario entering into student residence with intentions of stealing; a student entering into the administrator’s office with the intention to steal her teacher’s purse. Regardless of the fact that such crimes may not necessarily involve forced entry, they still amount to burglarying according to its modern day definition.


Herring, J. (2014). Criminal law: text, cases, and materials. USA: Oxford University Press

Mawby, R. (2013). Burglary. London, UK: Routledge.

Wright, R., & Decker, S. H. (2016). Deciding to Commit a Burglary. In P. Adler (Ed.), Constructions of Deviance. Belmont, CA: Cengage.

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