The crime of “breaking and entering” is as it sounds: going into someone else’s property (forcibly) without first receiving permission from those who reside there or own the property. But depending upon the type of property and the intent of the crime that was committed, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.
When is Breaking and Entering a Misdemeanor
Under North Carolina law, breaking and entering in North Carolina is a misdemeanor when someone wrongfully enters into a building without proper consent. But what is considered a building?
A building is any home or even an uninhabited home, a property under construction, or a structure designed to house activity or property. While it is “only” a misdemeanor, breaking and entering in North Carolina is the most serious level of a misdemeanor under state law: a Class 1 misdemeanor.
A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a court-ordered fine and up to 120 days in jail.
When is Breaking and Entering a Felony?
So if wrongfully entering a building without proper consent is a misdemeanor, when is breaking and entering a felony?
Breaking and entering can be charged as a felony in North Carolina when someone enters a building without proper consent and intends to commit a felony once he or she is inside. For instance, if someone breaks and enters a building with the intent to injure the occupant, they could be charged with a felony. However, it must be able to be proven in court that the defendant’s intent was to (in this case) injure the individual inside.
This can be difficult, as we don’t always know what’s in someone else’s mind. That’s why it’s important to point out that the defendant’s intent doesn’t need to be proven for someone to be found guilty of felonious breaking and entering. Rather, the defendant’s intent can be inferred through his or her actions. If the judge or jury can make such an inference, that is good enough.
Felony breaking and entering in North Carolina is considered a Class H felony and is punishable by a court-ordered fine and up to 25 months in prison.
Other Serious Breaking and Entering Offenses
Place of Worship
If a person is found guilty of breaking and entering into a place of worship, such as a church, synagogue, mosque, chapel, temple, meetinghouse, or other building regularly used for religious worship, he or she can be charged with felony (Class H) breaking and entering as well.
If a person is found guilty of breaking and entering into a motor vehicle with the intent to commit larceny or another felony, he or she can be charged with a Class I felony, punishable by up to one year in jail if convicted.
Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Breaking and Entering
A criminal conviction of breaking and entering in North Carolina can have a very long-lasting impact on your life. Not only can it affect your ability to obtain or keep certain jobs, but also it can have a permanent impact on your reputation. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!