Burglary is a crime that is often misunderstood. It gets conflated with robbery or even trespass. If you are criminally charged with burglary, though, then it’s important to understand exactly what crime you’re being charged with.
Understanding the charges against you is the first step in understanding what your rights are and what types of defenses can best serve you in court.
Here’s what you need to know about burglary charges in North Carolina – what it means, the penalties associated with a conviction, and the defenses commonly used against them.
Burglary in North Carolina
So, what is a burglary crime in North Carolina? It is defined as the unlawful intrusion into a building or onto a property with the objective to perpetrate a crime.
It is often referred to as breaking and entering, but technically under the law, breaking and entering involves entering a property that is not a dwelling but some other type of building.
In North Carolina, you’ll find two classifications for burglary charges: first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary.
First-degree burglary is charged when a home is entered and someone is present in the dwelling. It is a Class D felony and punishable by up to 80 months in prison, that is, if you don’t have a previous criminal record.
If you do have a criminal record, then you could be facing a harsher penalty and end up spending more time behind bars.
Second-degree burglary is alleged if a dwelling or home is burglarized but no one is home. It is considered a Class G felony in North Carolina, which carries a sentence of up to 13 months in prison when you have no previous criminal history.
What Is Intent to Commit a Crime?
The main factor involved in the conviction of burglary in court is the intent to commit a crime, namely a theft or some other felony.
It is not required for the prosecutor to prove what the defendant was thinking when they committed the crime, but only that it can be inferred from the actions of the defendant in entering a building without permission that a crime was going to be committed upon entrance.
Burglary itself is committed when a person entered a vehicle or building with criminal intent, even if there was not subsequent theft or felony that occurred after.
Defenses Against NC Burglary Charges
An experienced attorney can help you to formulate a good defense against burglary charges in court. After listening to your version of events and the circumstances surrounding the charges, then they may choose to use one of these common defenses against burglary in court:
- Lack of intent to commit a crime upon entry
- Duress, meaning you were forced to commit the crime under harm or threat
- Innocence if you did not commit the crime
- Entrapment by another to commit the crime
- There was consent to enter the property
Best advice? Make sure you’re completely honest with your defense attorney about what happened that lead to your burglary charges so that they can make sure to create a robust and honest defense that can help you avoid being convicted of these serious charges.
It’s also vital to understand your rights and understand the law. Burglary is not a crime that many people may even realize they are committing when it happens, so make sure you’re familiar with what burglary is can help you avoid charges for it in the future.