Can You Be Charged With "Breaking and Exiting"?

“Breaking and Entering” is a common crime that burglars are charged with. It means (of course) that the guy has broken into a door or window, in order to enter and rob the premises.
Suppose you hide yourself in a retail establishement at closing time-and after everyone is gone, you rob the place. To get out, you break a window. Would you be charged with
'breaking and exiting"?

You’d be charged with trespass and larceny. I’d suspect that staying in an establishment beyond the permitted opening hours could be construed as “entering” for any relevant statute (i.e., you enjoyed a license to be on someone else’s property until closing time, then you “entered upon” the property without permission when you stayed one minute after closing). The scenario you posit wouldn’t be necessary to convict you.

Huerta has the right of it. New York has the crime “Criminal Trespass” in multiple degrees; Burglary (there) is entering a structure that is the property of another for the purpose of committing a crime. Usually larceny, but any crime. I recall one case when I was younger and living there where local kids in a resort community broke into someone’s cottage during the winter to party – and were charged with burglary, some of what happened at the party being misdemeanors even though no there was no theft and the local police and D.A. wanting to make a statement about breakins.

Notice that “entering a structure for the purpose of committing a crime” does not necesarily mean breaking in. Going into a store, otherwise legally, with the itnent of secreting oneself until it closes so you can steal from it would qualify – the intent to commit a crime, not the ilelgal entry, is the operative factor.

I would, however, be interested in knowing if states with “breaking and entering” laws can apply it in situations like Rakog describes.

Here’s an example:

If you want some very detailed (and hilarious) information on “breaking and exiting”, get the novel by the late Donald Westlake entitled “Bad News”. The whole first chapter is about this sort of thing.

How about in this variant? My first job was in a supermarket. A couple minutes before closing one set of doors were locked and some (usually a manager) stationed by the other to stop people from coming in once the clock struck closing time. Sometimes they would actually lock them and unlock them as for as each final customer/closing shift employee exited. Sometimes they’d the door, but then go do something else and needed to be paged upfront to unlock the door. Usually there weren’t any customers at all left, but sometimes there was still a lone (& large) order being checked out. If one of the customers didn’t feel like waiting to be let out (a few keyholders took there sweet time coming up) and decided “To Hell with this” and ran a shopping cart through the door to break the glass and leave could they be charged with anything? Technically they are being kept from leaving against their will.

From the “Burns and Allen” radio show

Gracie is late for the show’s start and finally shows up and now has to answer to George.

Geroge) You’re late Gracie

Gracie) Yeah I know, I’m sorry

George) No explination?

Gracie) Ah…I tried to get here on time, but I went shopping at the May Company and I got locked in the store when it closed.

George) The May Company closes at 6pm it is now 8pm

Gracie) Yeah I was trapped in all that time

Geroge) Then how did you get out?

Gracie) Oh yeah, if I’m here I guess I would have to have gotten out.

George) I’m waiting Gracie

Gracie) I’m thinking George…Oh OK…I was in the store and I knew I had to get to the show and I had an idea, I rang the burgler alarm.

George) Oh OK, now I see

Gracie) Yeah…That’s right…I rang the burgler alarm and the burgler came over and showed me the way out

…And now back to your regularly scheduled thread :slight_smile:

IANAL, but don’t most places have fire codes that require people to be able to get out of a commercial building if needed?

Another variant:

I was at an ATM last year, located in the vestibule of a downtown bank. The bank itself was closed; to access the vestibule you had to swipe your ATM card to briefly unlock the exterior door. Once inside, you had to turn a handle to release that door and let you out.

Well for some reason on this particular day, turning the handle would not release the door: yes, my wife and I were actually trapped in the vestibule of this bank for a good five or ten minutes. A passer-by eventually swiped their card and let us out, but if nobody had happened by within a reasonable time, I would have readily kicked the glass out of the door to let us out.

If it had come to that, the surveillance camera and the ATM transaction record together would have easily identified us. In that case, could the bank have charged us with anything? Could they have compelled us to pay for the damage?

I suppose breaking the door to let yourself out - being legitimately in the store - could be considered vandalism or some such crime.

However, if it got to court, and the judge is presented with the facts - they are unlikely to give some regular Joe with no record a criminal conviction because the store locked him in. The judge is more likely to tell the store owner “if your policy is like that, what do you expect?”

I bet the manager paid a bit more attention to his customers’ needs after that.

Most places with a policy like that have a simple turnable lock, so the person could have unlocked it and let themselves out; or a panic-bar exit door. The employee just has to be there to lock the door behind, and/or make sure no one sneaks in the Out door while it’s open. The lockable door is inside the vestibule. I’m sure as others pointed out, fire codes require doors to be unlocked (and that red-and-white exit sign lit) while the public is in the building - more likely while anyone is in the building.

I recall a case in some restaurant where a customer was blocked and told he couldn’t leave until he paid his bill, and the police later threatened the owner with kidnapping charges. Confining someone so they can’t leave is also defined as kidnapping in Canada, but it has to be deliberate intent.

Maybe 15 years ago, I served on a jury for a burglary case.
The charge was exactly that - “burglary” - and it was explained to us jurors that the term “breaking and entering” was no longer used in the legal sense.
Burglary is essentially tresspassing with intent to steal, and is a more useful term since neither breaking nor entering is literally required to commit burglary.

I have no idea if this semantic change only happened in Cook County (where the trial was) or has been more widely adopted. But I think the scenario described in the OP would pretty clearly count as a burglary.

FWIW, it would be Illinois, not Cook County (unless local home rule permits Cook County to define criminal charges) – criminal laws other than a select few Federal crimes are the province of the states. As I noted, ‘burglary’ in New York is slightly more broadly defined than in Illinois. This is why something can be illegal in, e.g., Rock Island and legal in Davenport, right across the river but in another state.

Not so. There are two separate offences in Canada: kidnapping (Criminal Code, s. 279(1)), and forcible confinement (Criminal Code, s. 279(2). Forcible confinement can be one of the elements of kidnapping, which is the more serious offence, but it is a stand-alone offence as well. Preventing someone from leaving a building would not likely qualify as kidnapping, but it could amount to forcible confinement.

Depending on the facts of the matter, I believe it could also form the private law tort of false imprisonment, should the detainee choose to pursue a civil action.

Way back in the mid-seventies me & my family traveled cross country and we stopped at Meteor Crater in AZ.

Back then they let you hike all the way down into it if you wanted to. We did, and when we walked back up we found the place had closed for the evening and locked all the doors!

It looked to us as though this had happened before because there were numerous smashed glass panes in the doors (temporarily repaired). My parents decided we should just climb the chainlink fence instead. Really cool when you’re only like 7 or 8!

As has been alluded to upthread, the “breaking” in the phrase breaking and entering doesn’t mean breaking a window or doing other damage. It means breaking the threshold. That is, it’s nearly a synonym of entering.