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Information on crimes that are commonly charged in Michigan. If you need legal assistance, please contact a lawyer.


Breaking and Entering a Building with Intent

Statute: MCL 750.110
Crime Group: Property
Sentence Class: D
Minimum Sentence: 0 Days
Maximum Sentence1: 120 Months (10 years)
Jury Instructions: MCJI2d 25.1
Sex Offender Registration Required: No

Statutory Language:

A person who breaks and enters, with intent to commit a felony or larceny therein, a tent, hotel, office, store, shop, warehouse, barn, granary, factory or other building, structure, boat, ship, shipping container, or railroad car is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years.

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The State of Michigan convicts more people of Breaking and Entering a Building with Intent than almost any other felony every year. To convict on this charge, the prosecution must prove: first, that the defendant broke into a building; second, the defendant entered the building; and third, that when the defendant broke and entered the building, (s)he intended to commit a felony or larceny inside.

“Breaking” does not have to involve the physical breaking of a window, lock, door, or property; it simply means that some force, even the slightest, was used. Examples of “breaking” can include opening a window or raising a screen; entering a building through an open door or window without any force does not count as a “breaking”. As for the element of “entering”, a defendant does not have to have his/her entire body in the building; something as simple as reaching an arm in through a window will establish that the defendant entered the building.

The most frequent issue at trial involves the element of intent to commit a felony or larceny inside the building. If the prosecution can not prove the defendant had the specific intent to commit a larceny or felony once inside the building, the defendant cannot be convicted of this charge (but may be convicted of a lesser offense).

Prosecutors will sometimes allow defendants who are charged with this crime to plead to an Attempt to Commit Breaking and Entering with Intent, reducing the sentence in half. Alternatively, prosecutors will sometimes allow defendants who are charged with this crime to plead to Larceny in a Building (MCL 750.360), which is a lesser felony with a maximum sentence of 4 years.

For those defendants charged with this crime who fall between the ages of 17 and 24 years old, a deferred sentence program may be available. The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA MCL 762.11) allows a judge to defer sentencing until the completion of a probationary period. This probationary period may still require some jail time, community service, classes, drug testing, or other programs assigned by the judge. Upon completion of a successful HYTA probation, the charges will be dismissed. It should be noted that the prosecutor has to agree to allow HYTA status for defendants between 21 and 24 years of age.

A defendant convicted under this statute will typically be sentenced according to the Michigan sentencing guidelines. Because these guidelines consider both the nature of the current crime and the past record of the defendant—and because the guidelines are “advisory only” and judges are not required to follow them—it is impossible to predict a likely sentence without taking a look at the specific facts of a defendant’s case and reviewing the past record of a defendant, and even then such predictions are an “educated guess” at best. While fines and probation are often imposed, many defendants are sentenced to serve time in the county jail or prison.

1Maximum sentence shown is for a first-time felony offender. Prior felonies make a defendant liable for “Habitual Offender” (“HO”) sentencing enhancement. Thus, for a defendant with one prior felony or attempted felony (“HO2”), the maximum sentence raises to 180 months (15 years); for a defendant with two prior felonies or attempted felonies (“HO3”), the maximum sentence raises to 240 months (20 years); and a defendant with three or more prior felonies or attempted felonies (“HO4”) faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.



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