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What is Burglary?

Burglary is a serious criminal offense that involves unlawfully breaking and entering into a dwelling or other premises with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside.


Elements of Burglary in North Carolina


To establish the crime of burglary in North Carolina, the prosecution must prove the following essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Unlawful Entry: The defendant must have entered a building, dwelling, or other premises unlawfully. Unlawful entry may involve breaking a door or window, using deception to gain entry, or unauthorized access through an unlocked entrance.

  • Intent: The defendant must have had the specific intent to commit a felony, larceny, or another criminal offense once inside the premises. The intent element is critical and must be proven by the prosecution.

  • Occupied Structure: The burglary offense becomes more severe if the premises entered were occupied at the time of the entry. If the building was unoccupied, the offense may be charged as a lesser crime.

Examples of Burglary


Residential Burglary: If someone breaks into a person's home with the intent to steal valuable items, it constitutes residential burglary. For instance, forcefully entering a residence while the occupants are away, intending to steal electronics or jewelry, would be considered residential burglary.

Commercial Burglary: When an individual unlawfully enters a business establishment with the intent to commit theft or another felony, it constitutes commercial burglary. For example, breaking into a store during the night to steal cash from the register would be a case of commercial burglary.


Vehicle Burglary: In North Carolina, breaking into a vehicle with the intent to commit theft or any other crime is considered vehicle burglary. For instance, smashing a car window to steal a laptop left inside is a classic example of vehicle burglary.

Defenses to Burglary Charges

  • Lack of Intent: One of the primary defenses against burglary charges is to challenge the intent element. If the accused can demonstrate that they did not have the intent to commit a felony or theft when entering the premises, it may lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.

  • Consent: If the defendant had permission or consent to enter the premises, they may have a valid defense against burglary charges. For example, if the owner of a building invited the accused person inside and later accused them of burglary, their consent could be used as a defense.

How the Attorneys at Coastal South Law Firm Can Assist


Burglary is a serious criminal offense under North Carolina law involving unlawful entry with the intent to commit a felony or theft. However, with the help of skilled attorneys from Coastal South Law Firm, individuals accused of burglary can receive the guidance and advocacy they need to protect their rights and achieve the best possible outcome in their cases. Understanding the elements and defenses of burglary is crucial for those facing such charges, and seeking professional legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of their case. If you or someone you know is being accused of Burglary, it is important to get legal representation early. Contact the Coastal Law Firm for a confidential consultation.


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