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To use physical force to separate or damage a solid object.

When used in criminal statutes as an element of Burglary or housebreaking, to forcibly remove any part of a house that protects it from unauthorized entry such as locks, latches, windows, or doors, to gain access to the house with the intent to commit a crime; to use force or violence in escaping from a house after a felony has been committed or attempted therein.

The slightest physical force—for example, lifting a latch, releasing a bolt, or opening an unlocked door or window—is enough to constitute breaking.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

BREAKING. Parting or dividing by force and violence a solid substance, or piercing, penetrating, or bursting through the same.
     2. In cases of burglary and house-breaking, the removal, of any part of the house, or of the fastenings provided to secure it, with violence and a felonious intent, is called a breaking.
     3. The breaking is actual, as in the above case; or constructive, as when the burglar or house-breaker gains an entry by fraud, conspiracy or threats. 2 Russ. on Cr. 2; 2 Chit. Cr. Law, 1092; 1 Hale, P. C. 553; Alis. Prin. 282, 291. In England it has been decided that if the sash of a window be partly open, but not sufficiently so to admit a person, the raising of it so as to admit a person is not a breaking of the house. 1 Moody, Cr. Cas. 178. No reasons are assigned. It is difficult to conceive, if this case be law, what further opening will amount to a breaking. But see 1 Moody, Cr. Cas. 327, 377; and Burglary.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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