Burglary Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC
Burglary is one of the most serious crimes in South Carolina – burglary first degree carries a potential prison sentence of life in prison.
SC’s burglary laws can be confusing. To understand them, we first must understand some related concepts like “dwelling,” “building,” and “aggravating factors.”
Whether a burglary charge is first, second, or third degree (and how much prison time can be imposed) depends on whether the location was a dwelling or a building, and whether there were aggravating factors present at the time of the alleged incident.
How is Burglary Defined in South Carolina?
Burglary is entering someone else’s dwelling or building, without permission, and with the intent to commit a crime inside. If there is no intent to commit a crime, it’s not burglary – that is trespass, a 30-day misdemeanor.
First, a dwelling is a place where people live. Even if no one is currently in the home, it is considered a dwelling if they intend to return.
A building is a structure where people do not live, like an office building or a storage unit.
Aggravating factors will enhance, or upgrade, a burglary charge if they are present at the time of the alleged burglary. These include:
- The alleged crime happened at night;
- A weapon was either taken to the location or stolen from the location;
- Someone who was not a participant in the crime (an alleged victim) was hurt during the incident; or
- Two or more prior convictions for burglary or housebreaking.
So, what are first, second, and third-degree burglary in SC?
3rd-degree burglary carries up to five years in prison and covers situations where a defendant allegedly entered a building and there are no aggravating factors.
2nd-degree burglary is further sub-divided into two offenses: violent and non-violent.
Violent burglary second degree covers situations where a defendant allegedly entered a building and there are one or more aggravating factors. It carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison. (It doesn’t mean violence happened during the burglary – but, it’s classified as a statutory violent offense.)
Non-violent burglary second degree covers situations where a defendant entered a dwelling, but there are no aggravating factors. It carries a potential sentence of up to ten years in prison.
First-degree burglary carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, 85%, no-parole, and up to life in prison.
1st-degree burglary applies when a defendant entered a dwelling, and there are aggravating factors.
SC Burglary Defense Attorney in Charleston
If you have been charged with burglary in SC, you may be fighting for your freedom. It’s a serious crime with serious penalties, and you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner.
Call Charleston criminal defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.