What Are the Breaking and Entering Laws in North Carolina?

Breaking and entering is a serious criminal charge in North Carolina. Depending on the circumstances, it may be a felony but it could be a misdemeanor.

Felony B&E is when a person breaks into or enters a building with the intent to commit larceny (theft) or to commit any other felony withing the building. This is a Class H Felony. If a person breaks into or wrongfully enters a building without committing larceny or another felony, than it is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Breaking and entering doesn’t just apply to buildings. This statute also applies motor vehicles, railroad cars, trailers, aircraft, boats or other watercraft. B&E of any of these types is an automatic Class I felony. Beyond this, there are also specific subsections of the statute dealing with coin and currency machines as well.

The statute that covers breaking and entering also applies to burglary. The difference between  burglary and breaking and entering is that burglary occurs at night. There are two types of burglary in North Carolina – 1st degree and 2nd degree. 1st degree burglary is if the crime is committed in a house or a room used as a sleeping apartment and there is a person occupying that room or sleeping compartment. 2nd degree burglary is when there is no one present during the commission of the crime. 1st degree burglary is a Class D felony and 2nd degree is a Class G.

Especially because these crimes are most often charged at the felony level vs. the misdemeanor level, making them non-expungeable, you should have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney working for you if you’ve been charged with either of these crimes.

First Degree Burglary in North Carolina

We’re approaching that time of year when the weather starts to get a little nicer (although this year has been a very mild winter in Raleigh!)

Around this time, people start coming out of their homes to enjoy the weather, to have fun, and to hang out with friends.

And each spring in Wake County we have a series of crimes that are strikingly similar. They involve teenagers, typically out on a prank, or maybe up to more serious wrong doing. Maybe they’re looking for some easy money. Steal something and sell it on Craigslist or eBay.

Or maybe they’re just trying to take something that isn’t theirs for their own use.

These acts usually involve the teenagers running into garages, sometimes at night, and stealing bikes or even just beer, or vandalizing.

The result is a spate of First Degree Burglary, Second Degree Burglary, or Felony Breaking & Entering (B&E) charges, where young people face the possibility of not only felony records but also active jail time.

The difference between First and Second Degree Burglary is that in First Degree Burglary the residence must be occupied at the time of the Burglary, and in Second Degree Burglary the residence is unoccupied. Second Degree Burglary also includes the curtilage and outbuildings not connected to the dwelling.

Burglary in North Carolina occurs at night. This is one of the few jurisdictions that maintains the old common law distinction between nighttime burglary and day-time breaking and entering.

Ex: Let’s say someone breaks into the garage of a Raleigh home at night with the intent to commit a theft. Is that First Degree Burglary? Probably, so long as the garage is attached to the dwelling home. If the garage is a separate building within the curtilage, then the crime is probably a Second Degree Burglary.

Importantly, First Degree Burglary is a mandatory prison sentence, even for first time offenders.

Breaking & Entering may be either a misdemeanor or a felony, but in either case probation is generally imposed for first time offenders.

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