Burglary is a crime that carries severe penalties. Under local law you can face 15 years to life in prison for a conviction like this. Because of this, an accusation could potentially devastate your life.

If you are charged with an offense like this, an experienced Charleston burglary lawyer could fight tirelessly to protect your rights. Allow a steadfast theft attorney to build a strong defense to lessen your potential penalties.

What is a Burglary Charge in Charleston?

To convict someone, the prosecution must prove the following two elements: that person entered a structure without consent and that they intended to commit a crime inside that structure.

Entering without Consent

It must be proven that the defendant entered a building and did so without permission from the owner, or used deception or a form of misrepresentation to gain entry, as stated in South Carolina Code of Laws § 16-11-310. Burglary does not have to involve actual breaking and entering.

Intent to Commit a Crime

It must be proven that the defendant entered a structure because they decided to commit a crime there. The prosecution must prove the accused’s state of mind when they entered the building. Completion of the crime inside the building is not an element the state needs to prove.

The prosecution must have sufficient evidence in both elements to convict someone. A skilled burglary attorney in Charleston may be able to build a strong rebuttal disproving the required elements, which could result in the dismissal of a charge.

Dwellings and Buildings

Laws in the state protect both dwellings and buildings. As per S.C. Codes §§ 16-11-10 and 16-11-310, a dwelling includes any structure that is used for living, sleeping, and lodging.

A building includes any structure, vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft where people live or assemble for specific purposes such as business, government, or religious purpose.

The penalties depend on whether someone enters a building or dwelling because illegal entry into a dwelling carries harsher punishments. An experienced Charleston burglary attorney might help prove the structure is a building rather than a dwelling.

Degrees of Burglary and Penalties

Pursuant to S.C. Codes §§ 16-11-311 through 16-11-313, burglary is divided into three categories: third degree, second degree, and first degree. All types are felonies.

Third Degree

This occurs when a suspect enters a building without permission and with intent to carry out a crime. A first-time offender faces up to five years in prison for a third-degree conviction, and a second-time offender faces up to ten years in prison. This is the least severe of the different degrees.

Second Degree

This is when someone enters a dwelling without permission with intent to commit a crime and none of the first-degree factors are present. If someone is convicted, they can face up to ten years in prison.

If the crime is in a building and occurs at night or the defendant has two or more prior convictions, they could face second degree charges. If charged, the accused may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. At least one-third of their sentence must be served before they are eligible for parole. A well-versed burglary attorney in Charleston could help someone reduce the sentence of their conviction.

First Degree

This involves the unauthorized entry into a dwelling with the intent to carry out a crime inside. During the alleged crime, or while fleeing, the suspect:

  • Is armed with an explosive or deadly weapon
  • Physically injures someone who is not involved in the crime
  • Uses, or threatens to use, a dangerous device
  • Displays what is, or appears to be, any type of gun or a knife

If someone commits burglary at night, or has two or more previous convictions, they may be charged in the first degree. Someone charged in the first degree faces 15 years to life in prison.

Talk to An Experienced Charleston Burglary Attorney Today

Being charged with burglary can carry severe penalties. A first degree charge may lead to in prison for life, which is a steep conviction usually associated with a murder charge. An experienced Charleston burglary lawyer may be able to mitigate your prison time, help you avoid life in prison, and work tirelessly for the best possible outcome in your case.

Call a seasoned attorney today for a consultation. You are entitled to a strong defense and a team that puts your well-being as its priority.