North Carolina Criminal Law 14-54: Felonious Breaking or Entering

Breaking or entering is a severe crime in North Carolina that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Felony offenses may be punished by a lengthy prison sentence. Felonies are divided into different categories, which are Class A, which is the most serious, to Class I. A conviction for breaking or entering can lead to time in prison and a permanent criminal record.

If you have been involved in breaking or entering, you may not know what to do. The help of a North Carolina criminal defense attorney can provide you with information regarding the next steps if you have been accused of breaking or entering.

Breaking or Entering in North Carolina

If a person breaks or enters a building with an intent to injure the occupants or to commit robbery, they will be guilty of a felony in the sate of North Carolina.  The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is what a person intends to do in the building. For instance, entering a building to seek shelter is a misdemeanor, while entering a building to threaten the owner is a felony. The breaking or entering felony in North Carolina includes such acts as:

Breaking or Entering to Terrorize

It is illegal to break or enter a building to terrorize the people in a building. It is categorized under class H felony. 

Breaking or Entering a Motor Vehicle 

When you break or enter a motor vehicle with the intent to cause harm, you’ll be charged with a felony. The penalty for this felony is between three and 12 months. First-time offenders get a community punishment.

Breaking or Entering a Place of Worship 

It is a severe offense to break or enter a place of religious worship to commit a felony. Common places of worship include a synagogue, chapel, meeting house, church, temple, or mosque. If you break or enter a place of worship, you could be sentenced to between eight and 38 months in prison.

Felony Breaking or Entering 

If a person breaks or enters a building intending to commit a crime, it can be charged as a felony. The conviction for this class H felony is between 4 and 25 months in prison.

Elements that Determine Felonious Breaking or Entering in North Carolina

The following elements determine if a person has committed felonious breaking or entering.

  1. The defendant broke into a building
  2. There was an entry by the defendant
  3. The defendant had the intention of committing a felony
  4. The defendant did not have the owner’s consent

Breaking does not only refer to the actual breaking. It could be constructive if the defendant entered a building by trick, fraudulent representation, or force. A building is identified as an uninhabited house, actual building, or a structure intended to keep people and property secure.

North Carolina Defenses for a Felonious Breaking or Entering

If you have been accused of breaking or entering, you should get the help of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case. Even though each case is different, possible defenses for breaking or entering include:

  • Legitimate mistake
  • Permission or consent: the defendant has the legal authority to enter the building
  • No evil mind of committing a felony inside the building
  • Duress
  • Necessity

North Carolina Felonious Breaking or Entering Penalties

Felonious breaking or entering a building is a class H felony, and the maximum jail time is 39 months. The forms of punishment that can be imposed are intermediate, active, or suspended periods of incarceration. The sanctions that can be imposed include:

  1. Fine
  2. Costs of court
  3. Payment for damages
  4. probation
  5. Community service

The penalty will depend on the class of felony, disposition ranges, and the person’s prior convictions.

Felony Sentencing in North Carolina

The sentence imposed on a defendant depends on the defendant’s criminal record and the individual facts of the case. North Carolina’s structured sentencing system follows the steps below to determine the punishment:

  • Determine the previous record level for the offense
  • Identify the offense class for the felony
  • Determine the sentence imposition
  • Find the appropriate minimum and maximum sentence
  • Consider the factors that make a defendant less culpable

Once the above steps are followed, there will be flexibility in deciding whether the defendant gets a minimum or maximum punishment. Sentences may involve community punishments, probation, or intermediate punishments.

How Felony Cases are Handled in North Carolina

When you have been charged with breaking or entering, you’ll have questions about the law process. Low-level felony cases may be resolved in a district court through plea agreements. If it is impossible to solve the case in a district court, it is taken to a grand jury. The grand jury will return an actual indictment bill if they believe the defendant committed the felony. 

The case will then be transferred to a superior court. If no agreement has been reached, the defendant may plead not guilty and request a jury trial. Twelve impartial jurors are chosen from the community. The prosecution has to show that the defendant committed the felony beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot show proof of a crime, the jury returns a not guilty verdict. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence.

Contact an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Today

A felony carries severe penalties, which include a lengthy prison term and a criminal record. If you have been charged with felonious breaking or entering, contact King Law criminal lawyers immediately. We have helped clients in the North Carolina area and will build a strong defense on your behalf to reduce the negative consequences of your case.

Breaking or entering has long-term consequences if you are convicted. You’ll need to consult a North Carolina criminal attorney to protect your legal rights. We will build a strong defense that may help give you the best possible outcome in your case. Call us at (888) 748-5464 or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation.