How best to defend against a charge of breaking and entering?

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How best to defend against a charge of breaking and entering?

My husband was doing a drywall job for a man and we entered the job-site when no one was there to get my husband’s tools. We used the code to the garage that the man had given to my husband. He wants to charge us with breaking and entering. All we did was enter, get my husband’s tools and leave.

Asked on November 17, 2011 under Criminal Law, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your husband has been charged, he should retain a criminal defense attorney to represent him. The lawyer will review the case and circumstances and advise as to how to proceed.

That said, from what you write, your husband's defense will probably turn on two related concepts:

1) It is not breaking and entering to enter with permission; that your husband was given the garage code could be taken as permission to enter the garage for any purposes related to the work, including retrieving tools left there.

2) A criminal conviction requires not just a criminal act, but also a criminal state of mind ("mens rea") or intent. If you husband believed he had permission to enter, as evidenced by being given the code, then even if your husband was wrong, he should not be considered to have had the necessary criminal intent.


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