North Carolina

What is Burglary in North Carolina?

Burglary is typically associated with theft  and unlawful entering. There are four types of burglary charges and most of them are felonies. Burglary is defined as  (N.C.G.S. 14-51) as unlawfully breaking into a person’s dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. 

 The elements in order to get a burglary conviction are: 

Breaking and entering

This doesn’t mean you damage, destroy, or break anything to enter. Simply opening an unlocked door, crossing a threshold or entering through an open window.

Without Consent

You must be present inside of a persons dwelling without their consent; which can only happen when a person knowingly and willingly and agrees to it. 

Into the sleeping apartment or dwelling home of someone else

Burglary is defined as breaking into someone’s dwelling or sleeping apartment. Dwelling is defined as is any place that is occupied for purposes of habitation for someone.

“any building, structure, manufactured home or mobile home, or part thereof, used and occupied for human habitation or intended to be so used” N.C.G.S 160A-442 

Also with the intent to commit a crime

Breaking into someone’s dwelling is not enough to get charged with burglary. You must also have the intent to commit a crime. Even without intent, breaking and entering is also a crime in and of itself. 


First-Degree Burglary (The most serious)

This type of burglary is a Class D Felony and can carry up to 20 years in prison. This type of burglary occurs when the dwelling is unoccupied and unlawful entering or unlawful occupancy occurs with the intent of committing a crime. 

Second-Degree Burglary

This is a Class G Felony that can carry up to 47 months. Second-degree burglary occurs when the dwelling is unoccupied at the time of the crime. There can be extra time added at sentencing, which depends on a few factors:

  • Presented evidence
  • Prior criminal convictions 
  • The crime that took place after entering the structure or building 


Third-Degree Burglary

The intent to steal after breaking and entering is enough to land you this charge. This also happens in domestic cases where theft was not the intent. Depending on the crime that took place, this may or may not be a felony. 

Fourth-Degree Burglary

This is a misdemeanor.

How is Burglary Different than Robbery in North Carolina?

Robbery and burglary are both criminal offenses that involve the unlawful taking of property, but they differ in several key aspects:

Robbery: Robbery is a crime against a person and involves the use of force, intimidation, or threat of force to take property directly from someone’s possession. It typically occurs in the presence of the victim. For example, if someone holds up a convenience store at gunpoint and demands money from the cashier, it would be considered robbery.


Burglary: Burglary, on the other hand, is a crime against property and involves unlawfully entering a building or structure with the intent to commit a theft or other felony inside. Unlike robbery, burglary does not necessarily involve confrontation with the property owner or occupants at the time of the crime. For instance, if someone breaks into a house while the occupants are away and steals valuables, it would be considered burglary.

In summary, robbery involves taking property directly from a person using force or threat, while burglary involves unlawfully entering a building with the intent to commit a theft or other felony.

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