Habitual breaking and entering in North Carolina – In the state of North Carolina, crimes are generally punished using the North Carolina misdemeanor sentencing guidelines and the North Carolina felony sentencing guidelines. While misdemeanor sentencing is pretty straight forward, felony sentencing can be complicated. The rules associated with the guidelines for felonies factor in prior conviction points, classes of crimes, and aggravating factors, among other things.
Additionally, there are some crimes that have some provisions and enhancements that make them more serious crimes. Two examples are 1. What would have been drug possession becoming drug trafficking because of the large amount of a controlled substance in question, and 2. Breaking and entering becoming habitual breaking and entering.
In this blog, we will talk about habitual breaking and entering. Like all of our blogs, this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
What is habitual breaking and entering?
Habitual breaking and entering is a status offense, meaning it is based on current allegations AND prior acts in the past. In this case, it can be applied to anyone who has had one or more prior convictions of felony breaking and entering in the past. The law regarding this is covered under North Carolina General Statute 14-7.26.
This is similar to the Habitual Felon law except for some notable differences including, but not limited, to the following:
- Habitual breaking and entering can be applied after just one prior conviction unlike habitual felon that requires at least three prior convictions
- Instead of moving the severity of punishment to a certain number of classes, habitual breaking and entering has a specific punishment
- It is only eligible to be applied to a few qualifying convictions, including, but not limited to:
- Breaking and Entering
- Breaking and entering a place of worship
Consequences of Habitual Breaking and Entering
Conviction of habitual breaking and entering makes the crime punishable as a Class E felony. This is significant because breaking and entering is typically punished as a Class H felony. It is interesting to note that this is an enhancement that can be applied to several different categories of breaking and entering but would not be in the best interest for the state to charge. For example, first degree burglary is a Class D felony, which is already one level higher than the consequences possible for habitual breaking and entering.
It is also important to note that prosecutors have discretion with whether or not to charge someone with habitual breaking and entering, similar to the discretion they have to the habitual felon status. Just because someone has a prior conviction of breaking and entering does not mean that habitual breaking and entering will always be on the table.
If you have been charged with a felony in North Carolina, contact us.