If personnel from my apartment complex entered my apartment without permission in a non-emergency situation, is that breaking and entering?

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If personnel from my apartment complex entered my apartment without permission in a non-emergency situation, is that breaking and entering?

The police said it was a civil matter and nothing illegal happened. I have written documentation stating that they cannot enter without our permission (separate from any of the lease paperwork) which is on file in the front desk office.

Asked on May 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The police are probably right, and this is most  likely not a criminal  matter. Criminal liability requires more than an arguably criminal act; it also requires a criminal state of mind or intention, often called a "mens rea." If someone does something which could be criminal but had an innocent (even if mistaken) intent, it is not a crime. Example: you take my bag from the airport, knowing it's not yours--that is theft; but if you picked it up off the luggage carousal because it looks like your bag and you honestly thought it was yours, that is not a crime.

Similarly, if the complex personnel did not intend to commit criminal trespass, burglary, etc. but thought, even incorrectly, that they had the right as complex employees to enter the apartment, that is not criminal.


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