Break and Enter

The offence of break and enter encompasses situations where the accused was trespassing or attempted to trespass on private enclosed property with an intent to commit an indictable offence (i.e., a non-summary criminal offence).

There are two types of break and enter offences: 1) break and enter into a dwelling and 2) break and enter into a place other than a dwelling. A dwelling can be a house, apartment or even a garage. A non-dwelling can be a warehouse, a convenience store or any such other similar place.

A Break and Enter is considered a serious (indictable) offence and punishment can be severe. If the break and enter is committed in relation to a dwelling house, the accused is liable to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Break and enter into a non-dwelling carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If there are people inside the dwelling at the time of the break and enter, this is considered a home invasion. These offences attract much longer prison sentence than a simple break and enter. Home invasion is treated by the Crown as a much more serious offence.

Every person who, without lawful excuse, has in their possession any instrument suitable for the purpose of breaking into any place, motor vehicle, vault or safe knowing that the instrument has been used or is intended to be used for that purpose 351(1), or every person who, with intent to commit an indictable offence, has their face masked or coloured or is otherwise disguised S351(2), is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.


Robbery can mean everything from punching a person on the street and taking their wallet or cell phone, to robbing a taxi driver or storeowner, to a full-blown bank heist. Any theft or attempted theft, by way of assault may qualify for criminal robbery charges being brought against an individual in court.

Both robbery and theft involve stealing another person’s property or services. But, the crime of robbery involves the use of force, whereas theft does not.

In Canada, the Criminal Code makes robbery an indictable offence, subject to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. If the accused uses a restricted or prohibited firearm to commit robbery, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for the first offence, and seven years for subsequent offences.

Theft Under $5,000

Because shoplifting usually involves surreptitiously placing smaller items in pockets, under clothes, or in a bag, the stolen goods tend to be worth less than $5000.

In Ontario, this is referred to as the offence of “theft under” – because the goods taken are worth an amount “under” $5000. Theft under $5000 is considered a hybrid offence; depending on the severity of the crime and other factors, it can be an indictable or summary conviction offence.

Canada’s Criminal Code allows for a punishment of up to two years in prison for those found guilty of theft under $5000. Criminal records include crimes such as driving under the influence of alcohol, theft/ robbery, etc. It will appear on your National Police Check record for ten years and then be considered as “spent”. Spent convictions will generally not appear on a police check result.

If the individual who is found guilty is a minor, there may be other programs available for them. Be sure to consult with Brace Law to get the best possible outcome for these relatively minor charges.

Dealing with a criminal charge is a serious matter that requires a trustworthy legal representation. Whether it is a first-time offence, or you have had previous encounters with the criminal justice system, you need to retain the right legal representation for you or your loved ones. At Brace Law, we accept private retainers and legal aid certificates.

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