The Penalties for Breaking and Entering in North Carolina

Breaking and entering is a serious offense in North Carolina. If you have been charged with breaking and entering, you may be facing a felony or misdemeanor charge, depending on the facts in your case. A number of different types of offenses can be considered breaking and entering. A conviction of breaking or entering can result in jail or prison time and will result in a permanent criminal record. If you or your family member have been charged with breaking and entering in Charlotte, North Carolina, it is crucial that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the criminal proceedings and work to build you a strong legal defense. 

Misdemeanor Breaking and Entering in North Carolina

When a person "wrongfully breaks or enters any building," they can be charged with a misdemeanor for breaking and entering in North Carolina. The definition of a building for the purposes of breaking and entering charges is as follows: "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." 

The crime of breaking and entering can involve any amount of force, such as unlocking a door or window or opening it without the owner's permission. Prosecutors must prove the following elements to convict a person of breaking and entering in North Carolina:

  • There was a breaking and entering
  • The breaking and entering was into a building
  • The tenant or owner did not give to the person breaking or entering the building
  • At the time of the incident, the person acted wrongfully and without a claim of right

Misdemeanor breaking and entering is considered a class 1 misdemeanor with a potential sentence of between one and 120 days in jail. A person's sentence depends on whether he or she has any prior convictions on the record. For example, if this is a first-time offense, the sentence cannot be for more than 45 days in jail which must be community punishment. However, the Penalties increase in severity for second or subsequent convictions.

Felony Breaking and Entering

Felony breaking and entering is a more serious criminal charge, and the penalties include at least one year in jail or prison if convicted. The crime of breaking and entering can be charged as a felony if the defendant breaks or enters any building with the intent to commit any felony or within. Felony breaking and entering are considered a class page found that period between four and 25 months in jail or prison. A person with no prior convictions can be sentenced to a community or intermediate punishment, but the judge can decide to sentence the defendant to active jail time.  

Breaking or entering with intent to terrorize is considered a Class H felony with similar penalties for felony breaking and entering. This newer crime was added to the North Carolina criminal code in 2013. Entering a building with the intent of injuring or terrorizing an individual in the building is considered a crime. 

Breaking and entering a place of religious worship is also considered a Class H felony. Convicted defendants face between eight and 31 months in jail or prison. The prosecution must prove that the defendant broke or entered a place of worship, which can be a church, chapel, temple, synagogue, meeting house, mosque, or any other building regularly used.

Breaking or entering into a motor vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or larceny is also a crime in North Carolina classified as a Class 1 felony. The penalty for breaking and entering into a motor vehicle is a jail sentence between three and 12 months. For first-time offenders, there must be community punishment.

Are You Looking for a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney? We are Here to Help

If you or your loved one have been charged with breaking and entering in North Carolina, you will benefit from having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Depending on your case's facts, you could face a significant prison sentence if you were convicted. 

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we have extensive experience representing clients facing breaking and entering charges in North Carolina. We offer clients free initial consultations so they can learn more about how we can advocate for them. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule an initial, no-obligation consultation and learn more about how we can advocate for you and your rights.