Burglary is a serious crime that may result in imprisonment in North Carolina. Due to the severity of this crime, it is important to understand how the charges against you may unfold.
There are several effective defenses against burglary that can help you fight back against the charges.
NC Burglary Defined
There are three core components required in order for a crime to be classified as a burglary in our state. These are as follows:
- The act of entering must have been into a building or occupied structure
- The act of entering must have been unauthorized
- The person committing the act must have had the intent to commit a crime once they were inside
Regardless of whether or not a crime was committed, if any of these elements are missing then the crime is not an act of burglary. Speaking with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyer is important in determining what factors and potential defenses are applicable to your case.
Common Defenses against Burglary Charges in North Carolina
Since every act of burglary has its own unique factors, there is no catch-all defense. However, there are defenses that are commonly used to great effect. Some of these include:
Affirmative defenses are defenses that challenge any of the three core components of burglary. Some possible affirmative defenses are as follows:
Honest Belief. The defendant had, on reasonable grounds, an honest belief that they were allowed to enter the building or structure. Even if the defendant committed the acts alleged by the prosecution, they are innocent of burglary because there was no act of breaking and entering.
An example of this would be if the defendant previously had the consent of the property owner/occupier to be on the premise and was never properly informed when that consent was revoked.
Lack of Intent. The defendant had no intention to commit a crime when they entered the building or structure. Typically, the defense will work to show that there was another reason the defendant felt they needed to enter the structure.
In some cases, it may also be possible to argue that the defendant did not have the ability to form the required intent because they were in an impaired state during the act. This can apply even if it was voluntary intoxication, though it should only be attempted as a defense in specific circumstances.
Coercion. The defendant was forced to commit the act of burglary by another person that they would not have committed otherwise.
Not a Building or Structure. This one is pretty straightforward – if the area that the defendant entered was not a building or structure, it’s not a burglary.
The common thread between these is the general idea, “Yes, I did it, but…”
If the defendant did not actually enter the structure but was later arrested for doing so, the defense can challenge the claims made by the prosecution and attempt to show that there is reasonable doubt.
Presenting a strong alibi could prove that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime during the time of the criminal act. In the absence of a strong alibi, your lawyer may be able to attack the prosecution’s case by discrediting witness testimony or evidence to convince the court that there is reasonable doubt.
Being charged with burglary can be a terrifying experience because of the severity of the consequences. Because of this, it is important to educate yourself on the law and potential defenses so you have an understanding about know how to fight back.