Burglary is regarded as a very serious offence. It may be tried summarily or on indictment. The Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015 makes special provision in respect of sentencing for burglary.

Burglary is punishable with a fine and a maximum term of 14 years imprisonment or both. A person, who commits burglary while having a firearm ,weapon or explosive in his possession, is guilty of aggravated burglary. This carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Burglary may be committed in any premises, whether a dwelling house or not. Burglaries in dwelling houses are likely to be considered more serious given their intrusive and invasive nature and the potential effect on the victim of the intrusion.

A notorious feature of burglary is repeat offences. The 2015 Act seeks to ensure that repeat offenders receive a greater sentence.

Range of Circumstances

Burglary may vary from the taking of an item of limited value from an unoccupied house, to  deliberate premeditated burglary of a dwelling of an elderly or vulnerable person which may be accompanied bb malicious damage.

The offender’s history and record will be relevant. Aggravating and mitigating factors may include the personal circumstances of the offender. Recidivism (repeat offening) circumstances will be very relevant.

The use of force against a victim, traumatic effect, professional planning, organisation, racially aggravated aspects, choice of vulnerable victim, victim present in the house, burglars working as group are aggravating factors. Confrontation with the resident is a further aggravating factor.

On the other end of the scale, there  may be burglaries with no damage to the  property, little property taken and no contact with the resident while the property is unoccupied. In such cases, a community sanction may be appropriate.

Setences for Burglary

In the case of a domestic burglary, a first-time offender might commonly receive a sentence of a year, with second sentence of 18 months. With some aggravating factors, theses sentences may double. With ahigher level aggravation, the  tariff may be trebled or more.

The Irish courts require that the offence is considered on the overall scale of seriousness. Allowances are made for mitigating factors. A guilty plea and good character may reduce the sentence. Repeat offenders will be subject to higher sentences.

The Court of Criminal Appeal has reduced a 10-year sentence to five years and four years in the case of a burglary on an unoccupied house. Burglary of an occupied house with elderly resident might attract seven years although this could be subject to mitigation.


Fraud may attract significant sentences of 5 to 10 year, where significant funds stolen or embezzled. Fraud may be aggravated by a breach of trust, particularly, where the victim is vulnerable. In case of fraud, investigations may be complex and time-consuming. A guilty plea is thereore a more significant mitigating factor than in other cases.

Persistent offending, the purpose and context may be significant factors. A repeated pattern of conduct will lead to a heavier sentence. The purpose of the fraud may be relevant. The impact of the fraud on the victim is significant.

The use to which money is put is relevant. The use of money for necessities of life, is likely to be less harshly treated, and subject to more lenient treatment than use for luxuries and extravagant expenditure.

Fraud  to fund  lavish expenditure may be more severely punished than small incidences involving relatively insignificant amounts of money or where the offender has got into genuine difficulties. Fraud may be undertaken to support a gambling habit, although this is unlikely to be a significant mitigating factor.

Welfare fraud raises similar consideration. Orchestrated wide scale frauds are  more serious and treated more severely than one off opportunistic events. Voluntary repayments, personal circumstances, hardship, guilty plea, length of time involved in the circumstance are relevant mitigating factors.


Robbery carries maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Robbery involves theft with violence or a threat of violence and both factors will weigh. The value of goods stolen may be of less relevance where there is violence, there is a threat of violence or force. Premeditation and planning is likely to be more severely punished.

Very serious planned robberies may merit sentences of 20 years plus. The use of a weapon and  violence are aggravating factors. Armed robbery is likely to be treated as amongst the most serious of crimes. R

obbery using an offensive weapon  is likely to attract a sentence of at least three to five years or greater even in case of relatively unplanned, spontaneous acts. The use of firearms and imitation firearms is a severe aggravating factor. It is said, a starting point of eight years, may be appropriate.


Theft covers a wide  variety of circumstances. The entirety of the circumstances must be taken into account including the amount  stolen and the effect on the person from whom it was stolen. Repeat offenders are subject to more severe sanctions.

Many instances of theft may not merit prison. Community sanctions may be appropriate. Loss of social standing and reputation may be relevant. The courts have been sympathetic at times to persons suffering financial hardship who have stolen to meet the basic family necessities.

An offender who has not responded to more lenient sanctions is likely to be subject to imprisonment in the case of repeat offences.

Imprisonment may be a sanction of last resort in respect of shoplifting. Short imprisonment may be applied  in the case of a persistent offender.

Criminal damage may vary from minor damage to arson. It may be subject on summary conviction to a fine of €1,269 or 12 months imprisonment or on indictment up to 10 years imprisonment.  In the case of arson, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.


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