Columbus County has a burglary rate more than twice the state average and nearly four times the national average.
According to the FBI, over 1.7 million burglaries occur in the United States each year, and about 75 percent of them are residential burglaries. Curiously, only slightly more than half involve forced entry, meaning that invited guests are responsible for a large portion of these incidents. In addition to property loss, many victims experience fear and anxiety for months or even years after the burglary. The burglary rate in Columbus County (1,959 events per 100,000 people) is the third highest in the country, trailing only Washington County in Mississippi (2,088 per 100,000) and Sumter County in Georgia (2,197 per 100,000).
The government defines “burglary” as unlawful entry with the intent to commit a felony or theft.
North Carolina has a number of different laws in this area; primarily, they vary based on the type of structure entered and the unlawful purpose for such entry. Some of these provisions include:
- Residential Burglary: North Carolina still uses the common-law definition of breaking and entering with intention to commit theft or a felony. The offense is first degree burglary if the dwelling is occupied and second degree burglary if it is vacant at the time.
- Commercial Burglary: Merely breaking and entering a building, like a squatter in an apartment unit, is not as serious as breaking and entering for a felonious purpose. Breaking into a place of worship is punished severely.
- Trespass: This offense is entering a prohibited area without permission or remaining after the owner has told the actor to leave. First degree trespass is an offense that takes place at a utility company or at the residence of a former spouse; the latter instance is a form of domestic violence.
- Vending Machines: Breaking into any coin-operated machine or vending device is also considered burglary, either by force or by taking the key without permission. Change machines also fall into this category.
- Burglary Tools: Possession of lockpicks and other devices, especially if coupled with firearm or weapons possession, is a separate offense.
Punishment generally ranges from Class H felony (four to 25 months in prison) to Class D felony (38 to 160 months).
Many times, the best defense to a burglary charge is in the highly detailed nature of the burglary laws. For example, many structures are mixed commercial and residential buildings, and these offenses are nearly always charged as residential burglaries.
Furthermore, burglary is a specific intent crime, because a simple showing of unlawful intent will not suffice. Therefore, voluntary intoxication may be a defense, if it prevents the defendant from forming the requisite mental state.
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At Remington & Dixon, PLLC, we do not accept anything less than the best possible result under the circumstances. Call our Charlotte, NC criminal defense attorneys today for effective representation.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.