While each state has its own definition of burglary, it's usually defined as entering a structure without permission for the purpose of committing a crime. Burglary and the intended crime are usually charged separately, meaning that a person can be guilty of committing a burglary even if the intended crime wasn't completed.
Massachusetts has several statutes that address burglary, which are separated by the circumstances surrounding the burglary, such as whether:
- the offender was armed
- the offense occurred at night, or
- the offense occurred at a dwelling or other type of structure.
Massachusetts Burglary Laws: The Basics
One important step to researching the answer to a legal question is to look up and read the applicable laws. Unfortunately, laws are often written in legal jargon that can take time to interpret. For this reason, it can be incredibly helpful to read a summary of laws in plain English. In the following chart you can find both a brief overview of burglary laws in Massachusetts as well links to relevant statutes.
Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 266 Section 14 to Section 18A
|Sample of Burglary Laws
As previously mentioned, there are several statutes addressing burglary. Here's a sample* of a few important statutes:
Armed Burglary (Section 14): Breaking and entering a dwelling at night armed with the intent to commit a felony while people are lawfully present in the dwelling is punishable by 10 years to life in state prison.
Unarmed Burglary (Section 15): Breaking and entering a dwelling at night unarmed with the intent to commit a felony while people are lawfully present in the dwelling is punishable by a up to 20 years in state prison.
Breaking and Entering at Night (Section 16): Breaking and entering a building, ship, vessel or vehicle at night with intent to commit a felony is punishable by up to 20 years in state prison or up to 2.5 years in jail.
*Please see the statutes to see all the different circumstances that can surround a burglary, as well as the applicable penalties.
Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Chapter 266:
- Section 19 (Railroad Car: Breaking and Entering)
- Section 20 (Stealing in Building, Ship or Railroad Car)
- Section 20A (Breaking and Entering of Trucks, Tractors, Trailers or Freight Containers)
- Section 20B (Stealing in Trucks, Tractors, Trailers or Freight Containers)
- Section 49 (Possession of Burglar's Tools)
- Section 120, et seq. (Criminal Trespass)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Massachusetts Burglary Laws: Related Resources
Please click on the links below for additional information and resources related to this topic.
Get Legal Help with Your Burglary Case in Massachusetts
There are a variety of elements that the prosecution must prove before you can be convicted of burglary. The best defense you can have to a burglary charge, or any other criminal charge, is to have a legal professional by your side who will know the applicable laws and the best way to argue your case. If you've been charged with violating Massachusetts burglary laws, it's a good idea to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney near you to learn about your options and start crafting your defense.