Breaking and Entering in North Carolina

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Breaking or entering into any building without consent can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the intent of the of defendant. Generally, if the person commits the breaking or entering with the intent to commit a felony or a larceny, the crime is felonious. Breaking and entering is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-54.

Like all our blogs, this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.

Breaking or Entering

It is not necessary that there be both a breaking and an entering – one or the other is sufficient. For example, a person who walks through an open door can be found guilty of a breaking or entering offense provided the other elements of the crime are met. Similarly, a person who breaks a building’s window but leaves before entering the building may be guilty of such an offense.

Misdemeanor Breaking or Entering

A person is guilty of misdemeanor breaking or entering if they break or enter any building without consent. This crime is punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which means that, if convicted, the defendant faces up to 120 days imprisonment. An example of this offense is when the defendant breaks or enters a building for the purpose of sleeping inside that building.

Felony Breaking or Entering

A person is guilty of felony breaking or entering if they break or enter into any building, without consent, and with the intent to commit a larceny or felony therein. The intent to commit a felony or a larceny is what distinguished this crime from the misdemeanor version. Felony breaking or entering is punished as a Class H felony, which means that a defendant could face up to 39 months imprisonment.

What is a building?

This includes any dwelling, uninhabited house, building under construction, store, shop, warehouse, bank, garage, boiler room, mobile home

Breaking or Entering a Place of Worship

If a person wrongfully breaks or enters any building that is a place of religious worship with intent to commit a felony or larceny therein, that person is guilty of a Class G felony. Said person faces a maximum penalty of up to 47 months imprisonment.

Applicable buildings include any church, chapel, meetinghouse, synagogue, temple, longhouse, or mosque, or other building that is regularly used, and clearly identifiable, as a place of religious worship.

Breaking or Entering a Vehicle

A person is guilty of this offense if they break or enter a vehicle with the intent to commit a larceny or felony therein. This crime is punished as a Class I felony, which means that a defendant faces up to 24 months imprisonment if convicted.

For purposes of this crime, a vehicle is defined as any railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft of any kind, containing any goods, wares, freight, or other thing of value.

Habitual Breaking or Entering

Habitual breaking or entering is punished as a Class E felony, which means that the defendant faces up to 88 months imprisonment. A person can be found guilty of this offense if, at the time of the instant offense, they have at least one prior conviction of a qualifying offense, such as breaking or entering or burglary.

Burglary

Breaking and entering crimes are to be distinguished from burglary, which must occur at night, must occur in a dwelling or sleeping place, and must involve a both breaking and entering.

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