Burglary is the crime of entering, or remaining in a structure, without permission, for the purpose of committing a crime. A structure now generally includes mobile property as well, such as cars, boats, and mobile homes. The intended crime does not have to be theft to be charged as burglary. Although in most states, is does have to be a felony, if it is not the crime of theft; such as arson or murder. Nor does the crime actually have to be committed; the intention is sufficient. The elements of burglary include trespass and breaking and entering.
Breaking and entering is the crime of entering a residence or other enclosed property without authorization. It is not necessary to physically force oneself onto the property, if the entry was not authorized. If there is intent to commit a crime then the charge becomes burglary. If not, it can be considered illegal trespass, which is a misdemeanor.
Criminal (illegal) trespass is entering another person’s property without permission of the owner or his/her agent and without lawful authority, for an illegal purpose. The crime of trespass is a lesser included offense of burglary. Therefore, if someone is convicted of burglary, they cannot be convicted of trespass as well. Trespass can also be a civil wrong when the trespasser enters the property unlawfully and causes any type of damage. Damage can be any interference with the owner’s, or legal tenant’s use of the property.
The legal statutes regarding burglary vary from state to state, especially with respect to the specific definition of burglary, as well as the potential punishment upon conviction. Some states make a distinction for differing degrees of burglary.