As a criminal lawyer in North Charleston, South Carolina, I have defended clients charged with varying degrees of burglary. These varying degrees of burglary charges can appear confusing. Generally, burglary is the entering of a building without consent and with the intent to commit a crime once inside the building. There is no requirement the building be broken into. The type of burglary a person is charged with depends on the type of building entered, among other circumstances. If you have been charged with any degree of burglary in South Carolina you need advice from an experienced lawyer who is intimately familiar with the elements of each degree of burglary charge.
Types of Burglary Charges in South Carolina
From the order of least serious to the most serious, burglary can be charged:
- Burglary in the Third Degree (First Offense)
- Burglary in the Third Degree (Second Offense)
- Burglary in the Second Degree (Non-Violent)
- Burglary in the Second Degree (Violent)
- Burglary in the First Degree
Burglary in the Third Degree in South Carolina
Burglary in the third degree (first or second offense) – is burglary of a building without any aggravating circumstances. You may be charged with burglary in the third if you entered a building without consent and with the intent to commit a crime within the building. Even though it is the least serious of the burglary offenses, in South Carolina, burglary in the third degree is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison for the first conviction and up to ten years for a second offense. For example, A person may charged with burglary in the third for boarding a boat parked in a garage during the day intending to steal a radio.
Burglary in the Second Degree (Non-Violent) in South Carolina
Non-violent burglary in the second degree is the same as burglary in the third degree, but the person enters a home (dwelling) rather than just a building. There must be no aggravated (violent or threatening) circumstances surrounding the burglary. Burglary in the second degree non-violent is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. For example, a person may be charged with burglary in the second non-violent if they break into a home during the day with the intent to steal a television.
Burglary in the Second Degree (Violent) in South Carolina
Burglary in the second degree, violent, is when a person enters a building (not home) without consent, with the intent to commit a crime (like burglary third), AND the person or someone with him/her is armed with a deadly weapon, harms a person, threatens to use a weapon, displays what appears to be a gun or knife, or breaks in at night or has two or more convictions for breaking into homes. Violent burglary in the second can be distinguished from burglary in the third by its aggravating (violent) circumstance. In South Carolina, violent burglary in the second is a felony punishable by up to fifteen years with a requirement to serve one third of the sentence. As an example, a person may be charged with burglary in the second violent if they break into a store at night while armed with a knife with the intent to steal money.
Burglary in the First Degree in South Carolina
Burglary in the first degree is the most serious burglary offense and carries a prison sentence of AT LEAST fifteen years. It is one of the few offenses in South Carolina that can carry a life sentence that doesn’t involve a death in the commission of the crime. In South Carolina, burglary in the first is the same as violent burglary in the second, but the building entered is a dwelling (home). It is a felony punishable by NO LESS than fifteen years, but can carry a sentence of life in prison. As an example, a person may be charged with burglary in the first if they break into a home at night with the intent to steal jewelry and their accomplice is armed with a gun.
Consult with an Experienced North Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer
Any burglary charge is a serious felony charge and should be handled by an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the intricate circumstances of each charge and can advocate for you. If you have been charged with burglary first, burglary second, or burglary third in South Carolina, call Deaton Law today for a free consultation.