Breaking and entering is one of the oldest offenses in human history. Almost from the beginning of time we’ve heard stories of someone sneaking into a home, hut or other dwelling that wasn’t their own. The motives for such an offense range from a hungry beggar searching for some food to a jewel thief looking for their golden ticket.
The punishments for this crime vary depending on the motive and type of breaking and entering crime committed.
Intent Has a Huge Bearing on Your Case
Crimes fall under categories of felonies or misdemeanors. Felony crimes have harsher punishments. Your lawyer may be able to look at the evidence against you and argue for a reduction in your charges—from felony to misdemeanor. How can they do this?
Your defense attorney can try to prove that you didn’t have the motive or intent needed to constitute a felony crime. Felony breaking and entering consists of the intent to:
- Commit any larceny or other felony crime
- Injure or terrorize the occupant of the building.
These types of breaking and entering felonies fall under the Class H felony category.
Anyone who simply breaks into and enters a building would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Habitually Breaking and Entering
Besides first degree and second degree burglary, general breaking and entering, or breaking into a religious building, another felony offense is that of habitual breaking and entering. This could include repeated breaking and entering within the same district or those committed within another jurisdiction.
Once it has been determined that someone has been convicted more than once of this type of crime, they will receive the status of “habitual breaking and entering offender” and be punished according to that status.
Why is this important to know? If you are charged with breaking and entering after you’ve received the status of a habitual offender, you will not only receive the punishment for breaking and entering, you’ll also receive punishment based on the fact that it’s a repeat offense. You will be receiving two separate charges. The district attorney has the right to bring into evidence your prior convictions to prove to the court that they have a right to charge you as a habitual offender.
Punishment depends upon classification. Felonies range from Class A to Class I. Class A is the most serious offense, Class I the least serious. If you receive a Class I conviction you could be looking at 3-12 months of prison time, while Class A could mean life without parole. North Carolina also has a point system, so for each conviction you accrue points on your record. A judge will look at your current conviction as well as the points on your record to determine your sentence.
Whether you’re a first time offender or a habitual one, you need a good defense attorney. Your attorney can help you plead your case and possibly get your charge reduced if there is sufficient evidence. Contact the offices of John C. Fitzpatrick today to find a lawyer for your needs.