What lesser charges might apply if Burglary can't be proven?

28th Mar 2018


This is a purely hypothetical question from a fiction writer pondering a dilemma. I can't seem to find a clear cut answer from what I've read and I'm interested to know how this scenario might pan out:

Someone enters a property they believe to be empty with the intention of sleeping there for the night. The have no intention to steal or damage anything, hurt anyone or stay indefinitely.

The property is not empty and they are caught, inside the property, by police.

My assumption is they would be arrested on suspicion of burglary, but if the police couldn't prove or argue the intent to steal or commit a serious crime, what would happen?

Would they be released without charge, would it be down graded to trespass, or something else?
I feel like it would still be illegal to have entered the property but not sure what they would be charged with.
Would it be likely they would be charged with burglary anyway?

How would intent be proved if they were caught in the property? Would it hinge on prior convictions?

Thanks for offering your time to consider my question. 

CATEGORY: Criminal


1 answer
  • Vhs Fletchers

    Depends on the circumstances.  Off top of head, dependent on how the have gained entry then there may be an issue about criminal damage?  Old Vagrancy Act charge of being found on enclosed premises includes houses, but would need an unlawful purpose - old chestnut that used to be trotted out was to facilitate taking (and therefore possession) of drugs - but was used often when the police lacked evidence of a particular crime but somebody was found in dubious circumstances.

    Police may not believe account so charge them with burglary with intent to steal anyway and it will go through the courts?  If they had previous convictions for, for example, theft or burglary, then might make this course of action more likely.  

    Some quick thoughts, hope of some use?

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    Vhs Fletchers

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