What does aggravated burglary mean?

Aggravated burglary is a criminal offence in contravention of section 10 of the Theft Act 1968.

A person can be found guilty of aggravated burglary if they commit burglary with an offensive weapon in their possession.

For the offence of aggravated burglary to be proven, the offence of burglary must first be proven.

What does burglary mean?

Burglary is a criminal offence in contravention of section 9 of the Theft Act.

To find a person guilty of burglary under UK law, key factors must be proven:

  • The individual entered the building, or part of a building
  • The individual did so as a trespasser (without the permission of the owner)
  • The individual did so with the express intention of stealing, causing unlawful damage or inflicting GBH

To prove the offence was one of aggravated burglary rather than standard burglary, it must also be proven that you were in possession of a weapon of offence, a firearm or an explosive of some kind at the time of entering the property.  

A weapon of offence is broadly defined and includes any item that is made or adapted to be used to cause injury or incapacitating someone.

It is not restricted to just items that the law has defined as ‘offensive weapons’ which are more narrowly defined by the Prevention of Crime Act, albeit any item listed as an offensive weapon, which would include:

‘Any article made or adapted for use to causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use.’

Offensive weapons in aggravated burglary

There are three categories of ‘offensive weapon’ in the Prevention of Crime Act:

  1. Items made with the intent of causing harm or injury to another, including various types of knife, pepper spray and knuckle dusters
  2. Items adapted for the purpose of causing harm – those that have been changed or altered from their original state, such as a snooker ball in a sock, or a water pistol filled with acid
  3. Items carried with the intention of causing harm or injury to another, such as a bottle filled with acid carried with the intent of throwing it into someone’s face

What else must be established to prove a case of aggravated burglary?

In addition to proving that you were in possession of an a relevant weapon, firearm or explosive at the time of the burglary, other factors must also be proven to establish aggravated burglary over standard burglary.

It must also be proven that you were aware that you had the offensive weapon in your possession at the time of the offence, as there needs to be an intention to have used the weapon or have it for the relevant purpose of injuring or incapacitating someone.

Whilst you can rely on the defence that you did not intend to use a weapon in a burglary if you are proven to be in possession at the time of the offence, it will be for the court to assess the credibility of such an explanation. Much will depend on what the item was and what happened.

Aggravated burglary sentence

Aggravated burglary is a criminal offence that is triable on indictment in the crown court.

If found guilty, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

What to do if you are accused of aggravated burglary

If you are arrested on suspicion of aggravated burglary, we can represent you at the police station during a formal police interview, or a voluntary police interview – also known as a Caution Plus 3.

If you have been accused of aggravated burglary, seek specialist legal representation as soon as you can. Aggravated burglary is an extremely serious criminal offence so it’s crucial to consult a specialist solicitor with the necessary expertise to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

The criminal defence solicitors at Lawtons are experienced in defending cases of aggravated burglary and will be able to to advise you, whatever your individual circumstances.

Get in touch with the team at Lawtons, who can provide advice and support at every stage of your individual case.