Breaking and entering

By Jedidiah McKeehan

On TV you will occasionally hear law enforcement discussing a suspect’s criminal history and they will say something like, “well, he had a breaking and entering charge when he was 18.” If the cop saying this is hip, they will shorten breaking and entering to, “B&E.”

I always find this mildly amusing because, “breaking and entering,” is not an actual crime in Tennessee. However, the most similar charges in Tennessee would be the burglary charges.

Tennessee Code section 39-14-402 is the burglary statute, and it states,

(a)  A person commits burglary who, without the effective consent of the property owner:

(1)  Enters a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;

(2)  Remains concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault, in a building;

(3)  Enters a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault; or

(4)  Enters any freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault or commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.

(b)  As used in this section, “enter” means:

(1)  Intrusion of any part of the body; or

(2)  Intrusion of any object in physical contact with the body or any object controlled by remote control, electronic or otherwise.

(c)  Burglary under subdivision (a)(1), (2) or (3) is a Class D felony.

(d)  Burglary under subdivision (a)(4) is a Class E felony

If the place entered is a habitation, then the charge is Aggravated Burglary which is a Class C Felony, and if someone suffers serious bodily injury during the burglary, then the charge is Especially Aggravated Burglary which is a Class B felony.

While the TV shows make a breaking and entering charge sound fairly mundane, even the lowest level burglary charge in TN is a Class E felony, which is not a charge that should be taken lightly.

So now, when you are watching TV, and you hear them say, “breaking and entering,” know that in Tennessee that the person would have been charged with committing some kind of burglary.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.

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