Burglary of a dwelling is the of breaking and entering the dwelling house of another, with intent to commit a crime. The “break and enter” element does not require forcible entry. Illegal entry or trespass through an open door or window meets this requirement. By law, a burglary indictment must state which particular crime was attempted or committed. While most burglaries involve intent to steal, that is not always the case. However, the elements of the intended crime do not need to be stated. Further, an approximate date or range of dates is sufficient as long as it notifies the defendant of what is being charged.
The latest amendments to Mississippi’s home invasion law do away with earlier distinctions concerning whether the dwelling was occupied or empty; whether the burglary occurred in the day or night; or whether defendant was arrested with a deadly weapon. The penalty for home burglary is lengthy imprisonment. However, if the prosecution proves that the house burglar terrorized an occupant, the penalty is a mandatory minimum plus lengthy imprisonment. If a burglary victim is over 65 or disabled, then the penalty for burglary can be enhanced or doubled. Home burglary can also be charged for breaking and entering any building connected with the residence.
Even if a person is lawfully in a house, breaking an inner door with intent to commit a crime is felony burglary. Breaking out of a house is also felony burglary.
Breaking into a vehicle, commercial building, warehouse or any other enclosure with intent to steal or commit any felony is commercial burglary. Burglarizing a church, temple or other place of worship is punished more severely. Misdemeanor trespass can be considered a lesser included offense of burglary if the other elements cannot be proved.
Possession of burglar’s tools is also a felony. To convict for possession of burglary tools, courts will consider whether the tools are adapted to breaking and entering, the knowledge and character of the person possessing the tools, the intent to use them in taking the property of another, and whether the tools were concealed on the defendant’s person.
In order to reduce thefts of copper and other metals commonly stolen in burglaries, scrap metal dealers must now pass a background check and obtain a special license. Scrap metal dealers and pawn shops require photo identification from their customers. These purchases are routinely monitored by local police.