The punishment for aggravated burglary varies based on the severity of the crime, previous criminal history of the burglar and the location of the crime. Aggravated burglary is a term used primarily in the United Kingdom. Canada and many states in the United States refer to the crime as "breaking and entering" or "first-degree burglary."
When an offender enters private or restricted-access property with a deadly weapon, he has committed aggravated burglary. The offender would be charged with non-aggravated burglary if he did not carry a weapon with him. While robbery involves the stealing of valued property, burglary is committed as soon as the criminal unlawfully enters a private residence or other restricted-access location. No items need to be stolen in order to charge a suspect with aggravated burglary.
Punishments in the U.K. for aggravated burglary carry minimum sentences. Courts generally have the authority to determine the appropriate maximum sentences. For a first aggravated burglary offence, an offender must serve a minimum of 18 months in jail. The minimum sentence increases to three years for a second offence and more than four years for a third offence. Typically, sentences are much higher than the minimums, though. Recent court cases show that an average sentence is about four to six years in jail with the worst offenders serving 10 years or more.
Breaking and entering is a common crime in Canada, especially among youthful offenders. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Many juvenile offenders are given lighter sentences and sent to youth correctional facilities. Canadian courts hand out stricter punishments when the burglar has a past history of criminal behaviour. Typically, first-time offenders serve less than 10 years.
Each state has its own crime sentencing standards. In fact, states even use different terms to describe the same crime. Some states, including Ohio, call the crime "aggravated burglary," but most states call is "breaking and entering." Many U.S. states have harsher penalties for these crimes than the U.K. and Canada. Massachusetts, for example, sets the minimum sentence for breaking and entering at 10 years in prison. The minimum increases to 15 years if the offender carried an assault weapon. It increases to 20 years if the person is a repeat offender.
Factors Affecting Punishment
Although sentences vary by state and by country, there are a few factors that can cause any court to hand down a lighter or stricter sentence. Typically, youthful offenders get lighter sentences while offenders with prior criminal records get harsher sentences. If the aggravated burglary was committed during the day, many courts consider it a lesser offence than the same crime committed at night. Burglary without a weapon and breaking and entering without intent to commit a further crime also carry lighter sentences. Ultimately, though, sentencing is left up to a judge or jury. Therefore, it may not be possible to definitively predict the punishment for the crime.