“Breaking and entering” is a crime that covers a broad range of actions in North Carolina. Much like its name suggests, breaking and entering occurs when an individual forcibly enters a property without the permission of its owners or occupants. Due to its vast applicability, this offense may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the nature of a crime. Details regarding how the crime is committed along with the intent of a defendant are factors that are considered when determining whether an individual will be facing a mandatory prison sentence as a result of a conviction.
If you have been arrested and charged with breaking and entering in North Carolina, you probably want to know what you're up against. For the purposes of this article, we'll provide a brief overview of the state's laws and penalties regarding misdemeanor and felony breaking and entering.
Misdemeanor Breaking and Entering
Under North Carolina criminal law, a person commits misdemeanor breaking and entering when he or she wrongfully breaks or enters into a building. Namely, a person will be convicted of this crime if a prosecutor is able to prove that a defendant broke into a building without consent, and did so without any claim of right.
State statutes clearly define the term “building” 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 is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor - the most serious misdemeanor in the state. A person convicted of this crime faces a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
Felony Breaking and Entering
A person is guilty of felony breaking and entering when he or she breaks into or enters any building with the intent to commit larceny or any felony therein.
For example, breaking into your neighbor's house to steal their brand new wide screen tv would warrant a felony breaking and entering charge.
Also, entering into a building with the intent to terrorize or injure an occupant is a felony offense. Actions that are deemed terroristic, are actions from a defendant that cause another person to feel intensely frightened or threatened. If it is proven in court that a defendant unlawfully entered a property to purposely make another person feel that way, he or she will be charged with felony breaking and entering.
These offenses are classified as Class H felonies. If convicted, this crime entails a prison sentence ranging from 4 to 25 months.
North Carolina Defense Attorneys
As you can see, all forms of breaking and entering convictions could potentially compromise your freedom. An arrest for committing this crime could also lead to the creation of a criminal record if this is your first encounter with law enforcement. The skilled attorneys at Caulder & Valentine have experience representing clients who have been pinned with a misdemeanor and felony breaking and entering charges. Contact them today for a consultation.