Breaking and Entering Defined

In North Carolina the seriousness of the breaking and entering charge is centered around what you broke into and the purpose for why you broke into it.  Breaking is often misconstrued though.  Breaking simply means creating any opening, no matter how slight.  If you open an unlocked closed door, or if a door is cracked open and you open the door so you can enter, then you have broken in.  Entering does not require your whole body to enter. If any portion of your body crosses the threshold, you have entered.

Breaking or Entering Charges

Below are the potential charges and sentences according to North Carolina Law. 

  • Cars/aircraft boats, etc — breaking into, entering, or breaking out of a railroad car, motor vehicle, trailers, aircraft, boats, or other watercraft for the purpose committing a felony or larceny (stealing) is a Class I Felony. 
  • Buildings — if the purpose of breaking into the building was to commit any felony, larceny, terrorize, or injure a person then it is a Class H Felony. 
  • Buildings — if a person breaks or enters into a building for purpose other than those listed above, then the charge is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Potential Punishments

North Carolina uses structured sentencing guidelines which means that multiple factors determine the sentence you could receive. These factors include: (1) the offense class (i.e. Class H or I felony); (2) how many prior convictions you have; and (3) other charges that are resolved at the same time.

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: up to 150 days in jail and fines.
  • Class I Felony:  up to 1 year in jail and fines. 
  • Class H Felony: up to 25 months in jail and fines.

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