Breaking and entering is a serious offense in North Carolina and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. There are a number of different offenses that are considered breaking and entering. A conviction for these crimes can result in a jail or prison sentence and a permanent criminal record. If you or a family member was charged with breaking and entering in Charlotte, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through your criminal proceedings and build a strong defense to the charges that you face. Even if you are guilty, with the assistance of a skilled lawyer, you may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
Misdemeanor Breaking and Entering
A person can be charged with breaking and entering as a misdemeanor if he “wrongfully breaks or enters any building.” A building is defined for both misdemeanor and felony offenses under North Carolina law as “any dwelling, dwelling house, uninhabited house, building under construction, building within the curtilage of a dwelling house, and any other structure designed to house or secure within it any activity or property.” Breaking and entering can involve any amount of force, such as opening an unlocked door or window, to enter a building without the owner’s permission. In order for an individual to be found guilty of this crime, the following must be proven:
- There was a breaking and entering.
- The breaking and entering was into a building.
- The owner or tenant did not consent to the person breaking or entering the building.
- At the time of the crime, the person acted wrongfully without a claim of right.
This crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a possible sentence of between 1 and 120 days in jail. A person’s sentence would depend on whether there are any prior convictions. If this was his first offense, the sentence could not be more than 45 days of punishment, which must be community punishment. However, a person could be sentenced to jail time for a second or subsequent conviction.
Felony Breaking and Entering Charges
There are a number of felony breaking and entering offenses in North Carolina. These include the following:
- Felony breaking and entering. Breaking and entering can be charged as a felony if an individual “breaks or enters any building with intent to commit any felony or larceny therein.” This is a Class H felony. If convicted, a person could be sentenced to between 4 and 25 months in jail or prison. While an individual with no prior convictions could be sentenced to community or intermediate punishment, the judge can sentence him to active jail time.
- Breaking or entering with intent to terrorize. Breaking or entering with the intent to terrorize is a newer crime that was added in 2013. It makes it illegal to break or enter into a building with the intention of injuring or terrorizing an individual in the building. It is a Class H felony with similar penalties to felony breaking and entering.
- Breaking or entering a place of religious worship. It is a more serious offense to be charged with breaking or entering into a place of religious worship, which can include a chapel, church, synagogue, temple, meeting house, mosque, or other building regularly used as a place of worship. This is a Class H felony. Upon conviction, a defendant could be sentenced to between 8 and 31 months in jail or prison.
- Breaking or entering into a motor vehicle. It is a Class I felony to break or enter into a motor vehicle with the intention to commit a felony or larceny in it. The penalty upon conviction is a sentence of between 3 and 12 months. If this is a person’s first offense, the sentence must be community punishment.
If you or a loved one was charged with breaking and entering in Charlotte, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC are here to build a strong defense so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances. We have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, so we understand their strategies in prosecuting these charges. We offer free initial consultations. To schedule your appointment, call our Charlotte office or start an online chat.