Burglary charges are serious accusations with harsh consequences. Even a first-time offender may find themselves facing years in prison after a guilty verdict, and the first-degree variant of this offense is one of only a few punishable by life imprisonment.
In light of that, having help from an experienced Greenville burglary lawyer like Christopher L. Jones could be absolutely essential to protecting your rights and interests in the face of an accusation like this. From the beginning to the end of your criminal proceedings, your theft defense attorney could tenaciously advocate on your behalf and pursue an optimal resolution to this sensitive and high-stakes situation.
Different Degrees of Burglary Under State Law
The least severe form of burglary a Greenville resident could be accused of is burglary in the third degree, which South Carolina Code of Laws §16-11-313 defines as entering a building without the owner or occupier’s consent and with the intent to commit any crime. This a felony offense for which a first conviction may result in a maximum five-year prison term, and for which a second or subsequent conviction may be punished by up to ten years’ imprisonment.
Burglary becomes a second-degree offense if it involves a dwelling, or if someone breaks into a non-dwelling to commit a crime and any of the following apply:
- The perpetrator is armed with, threatens the use of, and/or displays a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or a believable facsimile of a deadly weapon
- The perpetrator causes physical injury to anyone not participating in the crime
- The act of burglary occurs at night
- The perpetrator has a prior record of two or more criminal convictions for burglary and/or housebreaking
The former type of second-degree burglary could bring a maximum ten-year sentence of imprisonment, while the latter type is punishable by a maximum of 15 years behind bars.
Finally, first-degree burglary as defined by S.C. Code §16-11-311, entails someone committing burglary of a dwelling under any of the aggravating conditions in the bullet list above. A conviction for this offense carries a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence up to a maximum of life in prison, which is why contacting a Greenville burglary attorney as soon as possible is essential in building a strong defense.
Fighting Burglary Allegations in Greenville
There are two main elements to a burglary offense that must be present for the prosecution to obtain a conviction: (1) the defendant entered a building or dwelling without consent, and (2) they did so with the express intent to commit a crime inside. Many successful defense strategies against charges of this nature are built around proving that one or neither of these criteria apply to a particular case, a process which Christopher L. Jones, a burglary lawyer in Greenville, could provide crucial assistance with.
However, it is worth stressing that you do not necessarily have to use physical force to enter a building for your actions to constitute burglary. For example, someone who enters an unlocked building with intent to commit a crime inside has committed burglary even though they did not break into the store.
Seek Help from a Greenville Burglary Attorney Today
Burglary charges are extremely serious matters in South Carolina that require a comprehensive defense strategy to overcome. Constructing and executing on a strategy like this can be next to impossible without support from a legal professional who has handled cases like yours effectively in the past.
Christopher L. Jones, a capable Greenville burglary lawyer with former experience as a municipal judge, knows the law inside and out and could enforce your rights and work tirelessly towards a favorable case resolution for you. Call today for a free initial consultation.