Burglary is one of many crimes in North Carolina that leads to confusion and misconceptions about the nature of the offense. Though commonly associated with theft charges, burglary is a distinct crime. The sentence for a burglary conviction may include long-term incarceration, fines, and other penalties. Plus, some consequences can affect your future even after you complete your sentence. Retaining the help of a Charlotte burglary lawyer is your best defense in fighting criminal accusations.
Time is of the essence in burglary cases, since prosecutors are already preparing their case against you. Our burglary attorneys have assisted many clients in Charlotte, and we’re ready to review the circumstances of your arrest and get started on your defense. If you were arrested for burglary, contactRandall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys at (980) 237-4579 right away to set up a free consultation.
Burglary in North Carolina
In general, burglary is entering a home or other structure at night with the intent to commit a felony or larceny while inside. Though the charges often involve theft crimes, the intent to engage in any type of criminal activity could lead to an arrest for burglary. Under North Carolina Law, there are two levels of this offense:
- First-Degree Burglary – Breaking into a residential structure at night, such as a private home or apartment unit, while someone was inside is considered first-degree burglary. This is a class D felony.
- Second Degree Burglary – Breaking into a structure at night that is not a dwelling, or is a residential building that was not occupied, is considered second-degree burglary. This offense is classified as a class G felony.
When comparing these two forms of the offense, it’s important to note what evidence is needed to prove burglary. The key areas for a prosecutor will be intent once inside, the type of building, and whether the structure was occupied at the time of your alleged conduct.
Burglary vs. Breaking and Entering
Just as there’s confusion regarding the differences between theft crimes and burglary, there are some misconceptions related to other home invasion crimes. There are multiple statutes regarding breaking and entering in NC. Some laws apply to illegally forcing your way into any type of building, while other sections pertain to your intent to commit a felony. Therefore, you could be charged with misdemeanor breaking and entering – as opposed to burglary – if the offense was committed during the day. However, felony breaking and entering charges may apply in other cases.
If you have questions regarding how your offense will be classified, reach out to a Charlotte burglary lawyer from our firm for help.
Penalties for a Burglary Conviction
The punishment for a conviction on burglary charges depends on the specific charge, which turns on the type of building, your intent, and whether anyone is present inside. As a class D felony, first-degree burglary charges could lead to a sentence of 38 to 160 months in prison, plus fines. Your second-degree burglary conviction – a class G felony – could lead to substantial fines, and anywhere between eight to 31 months in prison.
Aside from the punishment for a burglary conviction in North Carolina, there are other effects of a criminal conviction. For example, the conviction remains a part of your criminal record long after you’ve complied with the court ordered sentence. You could also experience problems relating to:
- Your current employment;
- Future employment;
- Professional licenses
- Applying for financial aid for college
- Child custody and visitation;
- Your immigration status
What to Do When You’re Facing Burglary Charges
There are many strategies on how to beat a burglary charge, one of which involves attacking weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Always keep in mind that the prosecuting attorney must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In a burglary case, intent, the type of building, and occupancy could be key issues for your Charlotte burglary lawyer to contest.
Your second approach to beating burglary charges comes when it’s your turn to present a defense. Depending on the facts of your case, there may be a number of defenses available. Your burglary attorney may be able to get your charges dropped or reduced by showing that your conduct was not unlawful because you had the property owner’s consent to enter. Alternatively, there may be evidence that the owner agreed to allow you in, but withdrew this consent later without your knowledge.
In addition, your lawyer may able to negotiate felony burglary charges to a misdemeanor, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case.