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.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.