In Oklahoma, What Is The Difference Between Breaking And Entering And Trespassing?

Breaking And Entering And Trespassing

Breaking And Entering And Trespassing are separate and distinctly different from each other as crimes. In Oklahoma, distinguishing between breaking and entering charges and trespassing charges is important. This is especially given the potential consequences between the two if you are convicted. Here’s a closer look at these two charges, the defenses that might apply.

Breaking And Entering

The charge of breaking and entering, as outlined in Oklahoma Statutes Section 21-1438, is classified as a misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to one year in jail, up to a $500 fine, or both. Breaking and entering involves unauthorized entry into a building or any part of a building, including structures like booths, tents, warehouses, railroad cars, or vessels. What elevates this from mere trespassing is the intent behind the entry. If you enter with the aim to commit a felony, theft, or any form of malicious mischief, you’re stepping into the territory of breaking and entering. This charge also covers situations where you might break into and enter a place without permission, even if you don’t intend to commit a crime once inside.

This law is based on two key aspects: the unauthorized entry and the intent of that entry. The intent to commit a crime, even if it’s a non-violent one like theft or vandalism, significantly heightens the seriousness of the charge. But it’s also worth noting that simply being inside someone’s home without their permission, regardless of your intent, can lead to a breaking and entering charge.


Trespassing, under Oklahoma Statutes §21-1835, means willfully entering or remaining on someone’s property – which could be a garden, yard, field, or pasture – without permission or after being explicitly told not to. Unlike breaking and entering, trespassing doesn’t necessarily involve entering a building or structure. It can be as straightforward as walking onto someone’s land despite clear indications that you’re not allowed, like posted “No Trespassing” signs.

For simple trespass, the penalty is a fine of up to $250. If waste, theft, or damage is committed during the trespass, the penalty increases to a fine of $50 to $500, and/or imprisonment in the county jail for 30 days to 6 months. The law does recognize several exceptions, notably for public utility workers, emergency responders in a crisis, or surveyors and engineers performing professional duties.

Comparing The Two Charges

The primary difference between breaking and entering and trespassing charges lies in the intent and the nature of the entry. Breaking and entering often involves an intent to commit an additional crime, making it a more severe offense. The entry is usually into a building or structure and may involve some degree of force. Trespassing, on the other hand, can occur simply by being on someone’s property without permission and does not necessarily imply an intention to commit further crimes.

Another aspect to consider is the severity of penalties. Breaking and entering, due to its association with potential additional crimes, often results in harsher punishments compared to trespassing. Trespassing is generally a less serious offense unless accompanied by other criminal actions. For both crimes it is possible that if you take a plea deal or found guilty after a trial you can expunge the record. This seals the record and gives you relief from a criminal record.

Criminal Defenses

If you’re facing charges of breaking and entering and trespassing in Oklahoma, there are several defense strategies that can be employed, depending on the specifics of your case. One common defense is the lack of intent, particularly relevant in breaking and entering charges. Should you show that there was no intent to engage in a crime when entering the property, this can significantly damage the prosecution’s case. For trespassing, a viable defense could be the right of access or the belief of having permission to be on the property. This could be relevant if you were under the impression that you had consent to enter the land or building.

Mistaken identity is another defense, where you assert that you were not the person who committed the alleged offense. Additionally, in some instances, demonstrating that the entry was necessary for an emergency can be a defense. This applies especially if entering the property was to provide urgent assistance to someone in need.

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Breaking And Entering Lawyer

Remember, both breaking and entering and trespassing are significant legal charges. You should treat both charges with the seriousness they deserve. It’s important to consult with a legal professional who can evaluate the details of your situation. After doing this they can advise you on the best defense strategy. Remember, the specifics of each case are unique. This means that a defense that works well in one situation might not be applicable in another.
The Oklahoma lawyers at Kania Law Office defend clients facing charges like breaking and entering and trespassing in Oklahoma. If you’re facing charges, don’t hesitate to contact experienced criminal defense lawyers at Kania Law Office. Call us at (918) 743-2233 or online.

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