Burglars who target homes could be spared jail despite "grave concerns" over giving them community sentences, the body which produces guidelines for judges has said.
The Sentencing Council said that while there were "some grave concerns that any sentence for domestic burglary should be non-custodial", community orders for the lowest level of offenders were "appropriate".
This could include offenders with no previous convictions who reached through an open window or who did not force entry before taking goods of little or no value.
But the overall severity of sentences was likely to remain unchanged as the guideline was brought in to improve consistency of sentences and encourage judges to focus on the harm to the victim, as well as the culpability of the offender, the council said.
Under the plans, those convicted of the lowest level of domestic burglary would be given a community order, while those responsible for offences at the top end of the range could be jailed for up to six years.
In its consultation paper on domestic burglaries, the council said the Sentencing Advisory Panel (SAP) "consulted specifically on whether a community order starting point, where no factors indicating greater culpability or harm are present, was appropriate".
"There was broad agreement with the approach, though some responses expressed grave concerns that any sentence for domestic burglary should be non-custodial," the council said.
"However, the SAP identified that even those responding in this way seemed to be content for a non-custodial sentence to result following consideration of mitigating factors applying either to the offence or to the offender."
It went on: "Existing sentencing practice also demonstrates the use of community sentences in some circumstances."
The proposed guidelines also showed that offenders convicted of a non-domestic burglary could escape with a fine or be jailed for up to four years, depending on the severity and circumstances of the offence. But any burglars caught with a weapon, the offence of aggravated burglary, should expect to be jailed.