Unlawfully in a Dwelling VS Break and Enter


In the complex world of Canadian law, understanding specific charges and their implications is crucial. Among such charges are Breaking and Entering (B&E) and Unlawfully in a Dwelling. Despite sounding similar, these two charges are different in several key aspects. This blog will detail these differences, explaining each charge and its potential repercussions. 

Defining B&E: Breaking Down the Crime 

Breaking and Entering, often abbreviated to B&E, is a crime that involves illegally entering a property with the intent to commit an indictable offence. The crime isn’t limited to ‘breaking’ anything physically; simply entering a property without permission or through any deception can constitute a B&E. 

The Criminal Code of Canada is explicit in its classification and punishment for this crime. B&E in relation to a dwelling-house carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment. However, this is the maximum sentence, and the actual sentence can vary based on the circumstances of each case. 

Unlawfully in a Dwelling: An In-Depth Look 

Being ‘Unlawfully in a Dwelling’ refers to the crime of being in someone’s home without their permission, but without the intent to commit another crime. It is the act of unauthorized presence in someone else’s residence. This might involve entering the dwelling without breaking in or remaining there without the owner’s knowledge. 

As per the Criminal Code of Canada, being found unlawfully in a dwelling is an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or on summary conviction for a term not exceeding six months. Again, the actual sentence can vary depending on the specifics of the case. 

Unlawfully in a Dwelling VS Break and Enter: The Key Distinctions 

While B&E and Unlawfully in a Dwelling involve unauthorized presence in someone else’s property, there are crucial differences. B&E requires intent to commit an indictable offence, making the crime more severe. In contrast, Unlawfully in a Dwelling involves simply being in a dwelling without permission, regardless of the intent. 

Here’s an example for clarity: If an individual enters a home without permission intending to steal something, they can be charged with B&E. However, if the individual enters the home without permission but doesn’t intend to commit any further crime, they could be charged with being Unlawfully in a Dwelling. 

The Role of a Robbery Lawyer: Navigating Complex Cases 

This is where a Robbery Lawyer comes in. They specialize in handling cases involving B&E, Unlawfully in a Dwelling, and related charges. With their in-depth understanding of Canadian law and experience in such cases, they can provide essential legal advice and representation. 

For anyone facing charges of B&E or Unlawfully in a Dwelling, it’s important to seek the counsel of a Robbery Lawyer promptly. From advising on potential defences to representing clients in court, their expertise can significantly impact the outcome of a case. 

Breaking Down Breaking and Entering Charges 

Charges for B&E can result from a variety of scenarios. Factors such as whether violence was used, whether the premises were inhabited, and the perpetrator’s past criminal record can all influence the severity of the charges. 

It’s also important to remember that the intent to commit a crime plays a significant role in B&E charges, and this distinguishes B&E from trespassing or being Unlawfully in a Dwelling. The court will consider all these factors when deciding on the appropriate punishment. 

Minimum Sentence for Breaking and Entering in Canada: What the Law States 

The minimum sentence for B&E in Canada can vary significantly based on the case’s specifics. The Criminal Code does not explicitly state a minimum sentence for B&E, instead outlining maximum sentences. These maximum sentences give judges the discretion to decide on an appropriate sentence, taking into account factors such as the circumstances of the crime, the perpetrator’s intent, and their past criminal record. 

Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae: Expert Legal Guidance for B&E and Unlawfully in a Dwelling Cases 

Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae, a renowned Canadian law firm, has an expert team of lawyers specializing in cases involving B&E and Unlawfully in a Dwelling. They understand the complexities of these charges and can provide clients with the advice and representation they need. 

The firm’s expertise and commitment to their clients’ interests set them apart in the legal field. They aim to ensure that each client’s rights are protected throughout the legal process, from the initial arrest to the final resolution of the case. 


Understanding the differences between B&E and Unlawfully in a Dwelling is important for anyone involved in such a case, whether as a defendant, a victim, or a witness. These are complex charges, each carrying its own implications and potential punishments. 

While this blog provides an overview of these charges, seeking professional legal advice is essential when dealing with such matters. Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae stands ready to assist anyone facing these charges, providing expert advice and representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system.


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