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In North Carolina, the term “breaking and entering” actually covers a wide range of actions. As the name implies, breaking and entering generally occurs when someone enters a property forcibly, without the permission of the occupants or owners.

However, the sheer fact that this term covers such a wide range of actions also means that it can be charged in several ways depending on the nature of the crime. 

How the crime is committed as well as the intent of the perpetrator are used to determine how the crime is to be charged. Here’s what you need to know about breaking and entering in North Carolina, and the fine line between being charged with a misdemeanor or felony as a result.

Breaking and Entering: Misdemeanor

According to criminal law in North Carolina, misdemeanor breaking and entering crimes occur when a person wrongfully enters or breaks into a building. Specifically, it must be proven that the defendant went into the building without consent or any claim or right to.

A building in this sense is any home or uninhabited house, any structure designed to house activity or property, or a building under construction. If convicted, then it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious level of a misdemeanor under North Carolina law.

The penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor are up to 120 days in jail and a fine at the court’s discretion.

Breaking and Entering: Felony

Breaking and entering can be charged as a felony in North Carolina if a person enters or breaks into a building with the intent to commit a felony once inside, such as larceny.

A person can also be charged with felony breaking and entering if they enter the building with the intent to injure or terrorize the occupant. Terroristic actions include acting in any way that causes someone else to feel threatened or intensely frightened.

If it can be proven in the court of law that a building or property was entered upon to purposefully make someone feel threatened or scared, then felony breaking and entering can be charged. 

That said, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove intent in order for someone to be found guilty of felonious breaking and entering. If the jury or judge can infer intent through their actions, that is sufficient.

A felony breaking and entering crime is considered a Class H felony in North Carolina. If found guilty, the defendant can face up to 25 months in prison.

Breaking and Entering into a Place of Worship

Another serious offense that one can be charged with is breaking and entering into a place of worship. This includes buildings such as a church, temple, synagogue, chapel, mosque, or meeting house, but also encompasses other buildings that may be regularly used for the purpose of religious worship.

If a person is found breaking and entering into a house of worship they can be charged with a Class H felony, the same as felony breaking and entering.

Breaking and Entering into a Motor Vehicle

Breaking and Entering into a Motor Vehicle

Breaking and entering into a car is also a serious offense in North Carolina. A person can be charged with this crime when they break into and enter a car with the intention to commit larceny, or some other felony. 

It is a Class I felony charge which can result in up to one year in jail if convicted.

Ultimately, staying informed about the way the law and property crimes work in North Carolina is crucial when you or someone you know winds up in a legally complicated situation. This short guide is a great start to understanding the charges you may be facing.

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