(See, MPC § 221) At common law, burglary was defined as a breaking and entering of the dwelling of another under cover of night with intent to commit a felony within. The offense of burglary was created to protect the safety and security of the home.
Common law required a use of force to gain entry and this constituted breaking. Most modern statutes only require entry with felonious intent; even entry into a public place with intent to commit a felony will meet this requirement.
At common law, dwelling signified more than just residences. This term applied to any outbuildings associated with and near a main residence, with occupancy of a structure as the important factor. Statutory changes enlarged the scope of coverage to include any edifice designed for the habitation of men or animals or for the shelter of property; dwellings need not be completely enclosed and may be a public place.
One cannot commit burglary by breaking into and entering one’s own home with intent to commit a felony. Burglary requires that the building be that of another person.
Although at common law it was important for the breaking to occur at night, most statutes have removed this requirement. Many statutes, however, grade the offense differently when entry occurs at night.
Entry must be accompanied with intent to commit a felony. The intended felony does not have to actually occur, but it is additional evidence helping to establish intent.