Lexington Burglary Attorney
Examining the Burglary Laws in South Carolina
In the state of South Carolina, it is illegal to enter a dwelling without permission and/or with the intention to commit a crime therein. For the purpose of defining this crime, a "dwelling" refers to any structure that is inhabited by another person—i.e. a house or an apartment. It is important to understand, however, that one could still be charged with a crime even if they have entered a dwelling that was not occupied at that moment in time. This would be charged as a burglary offense, although it is also commonly referred to as "breaking and entering." Depending on the nature of the crime, the offender could either be charged with burglary in the first, second or third degree.
In order to be found guilty of a burglary offense—rather than trespassing, for example—the prosecution must be able to show that two specific elements existed: an unlawful entry of the dwelling and intent to commit a crime therein. If the offender was armed, inflicted physical harm on the occupants of the dwelling and/or unlawfully entered the structure at night, the charges could be increased—meaning that the specific nature of the crime will ultimately dictate the severity of the charges. Since a conviction could land you in prison for life, it is highly recommended that you involve a Lexington criminal attorney from the
Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC as soon as you have been arrested.
Penalties for Burglary in the First, Second & Third Degree
Burglary is one of the most serious criminal offenses that one could be charged with in Lexington, South Carolina. For this reason, you shouldn't take any chances when it comes to your defense. Enlisting the help of an experienced lawyer is highly advised, as you could be facing life in state prison. More specifically, however, you could face the following penalties if convicted:
- Burglary in the First Degree (S.C. Code §16-11-311) – 15 years to life in state prison
- Burglary in the Second Degree (S.C. Code §16-11-312) – Up to 15 years in state prison
- Burglary in the Third Degree (S.C. Code §16-11-313) – Up to 5 years in state prison
- Possession of Burglary Tools (S.C. Code §16-11-20) – Up to 5 years in state prison
Understanding the Various Degrees of Breaking & Entering
There are several different factors that will determine the degree to which an offender will be charged when they have been accused of committing a burglary offense. In order to substantiate the charges of burglary in the first degree, it must be proven that the defendant had entered a dwelling without permission, that they had intended to commit a crime therein and that at least one aggravating factor was present—i.e. they were armed with a weapon, they entered the building at night and/or they have a least two prior convictions for the same offense. If the burglary was committed in a structure that was not inhabited and at least one aggravating factor was present, the crime would be charged as a second degree offense.
Finally, burglary in the third degree could include any instance in which someone unlawfully enters a building without any aggravating factors present. Any of these charges could be enhanced if it was discovered that you were in possession of burglary tools, however—which carries a sentence of 5 years in state prison all on its own—so you should not hesitate to equip yourself with an adequate defense if you have been charged with any of the aforementioned crimes. The prosecution may try to find reasons to charge you with a more serious offense, so it is important that you take steps to protect yourself. This starts by invoking your right to legal counsel.
Charged with Burglary? Contact a Lexington criminal attorney!
If you have recently been charged with burglary, or "breaking and entering," you should waste no time in contacting a Lexington criminal defense lawyer from the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC. Our firm can move quickly to build a solid defense strategy in your favor, but we encourage you to get started as soon as possible. To get in touch with our legal team, you can either call our office at (888) 301-6004 or submit a
free case evaluation form directly from our website. From there, our firm will advise you on what steps to take next. We look forward to hearing from you soon!