Is Breaking and Entering the Same as Burglary in North Carolina?

If you have heard the term "breaking and entering," you may wonder if it is the same as burglary. Many people understand that entering someone else's property without their permission is an obvious crime. Still, they may need to realize North Carolina has a few different categories of theft crimes. Generally, two specific types of crimes come up when there is an incident in which someone enters another person's property. These crimes are breaking and entering and burglary. They may seem interchangeable, but there is a difference between the two.

Breaking and Entering Charges in North Carolina

The crime of breaking and entering involves entering a building illegally without permission from the owner. Breaking and entering also includes breaking out of a building when committing a burglary crime in the first or second degree. The charge of breaking and entering can consist of burglary. However, not all burglary charges constitute breaking and entering.

According to the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, a crime does not require breaking into a building to constitute burglary. Additionally, burglary requires prosecutors to prove that the defendant entered the building with the intent to commit a theft crime or felony.

In other words, a charge for breaking and entering does not always require the intent to do something illegal when entering a building. It does require breaking in to gain entry into the building. On the other hand, burglary always involves the intent of an additional criminal act, and it does not necessarily require prosecutors to prove that you broke into the building. The difference between breaking and entering charges and burglary can be confusing. Sometimes burglary is breaking and entering. Sometimes breaking and entering is also burglary. In most cases, it will come down to the specific details of the situation and the type of criminal charge the prosecution will bring against you.

First-Degree Burglary Penalties in North Carolina

A person commits first-degree burglary when they break and enter an occupied dwelling or sleeping apartment at night with the intent to commit a felony. First-degree burglary is a Class D Felony that is punishable by 38 to 160 months in prison.

Second-Degree Burglary Penalties in North Carolina

Prosecutors could elevate a first-degree burglary charge to a second-degree burglary charge if the occupants were not home when the burglary occurred. A person convicted of second-degree burglary in North Carolina faces class G felony charges with a prison sentence of eight to 31 months.

Felonious Breaking or Entering of a Building in North Carolina

Breaking or entering into any other buildings intending to commit a crime or harm another person is considered felonious breaking and entering. Unlike burglary charges, felonious breaking and entering can occur anytime, day or night. As mentioned above, burglary always involves breaking and entering, whereas felonious breaking or entering requires one or the other. The penalties for breaking or entering crimes depend on the building type involved.

Defending Against Breaking and Entering Charges 

To prove burglary and felonious breaking and entering charges, the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the prosecution must prove that the defendant entered the building with the intent to commit a theft or felony. The prosecution does not need to prove that the crime was completed, merely that the defendant intended to commit a crime.

Proving intent can be challenging for prosecutors. Your defense strategy may include establishing that you did not intend to commit a crime and cannot be convicted of breaking and entering. Other legal defenses may include mistaken identity or the fact that you did not understand that you were entering another person's property without consent.

Discuss Your Case With a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were under investigation for committing a crime, including burglary or breaking and entering, you must contact an attorney as soon as possible. Breaking and entering charges carry significant penalties, including jail time and fines that can make it difficult to obtain employment and housing in the future.

If you are convicted, you will have a permanent criminal record that can also negatively affect your personal life. The sooner you reach out to an experienced attorney, the sooner your attorney can investigate your case and gather evidence. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for you and your rights.