As the old saying goes, a man’s home is his castle. Whether a person is at home or away from it, he or she has a right to exclusive ownership. Individuals also should not have to worry about someone entering their property with illegal or improper intentions. If that happens, the perpetrator may have satisfied the elements of burglary.
Burglary is a serious offense in South Carolina. Still, to be guilty of the crime, an individual must take certain steps and have a specific type of intent. If you are facing criminal charges, you should understand what constitutes burglary in the Palmetto State.
The elements of burglary
For a burglary to take place, there must be an unauthorized entry into a structure for the purpose of committing a crime once inside. Therefore, to meet the elements of the crime, a person must enter a building without permission and have criminal intent. You should realize, though, that entering a structure can be minimal. Reaching your hand inside an open window, for example, is probably enough.
The degrees of burglary
In South Carolina, there are three degrees of burglary. First-degree burglary is the more serious charge, as it involves entering a dwelling as opposed to another type of building. Furthermore, to secure a guilty verdict for first-degree burglary, prosecutors must establish a violence element beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, the perpetrator may have used a weapon or made threats of physical harm. Second- and third-degree burglary typically involve less-serious conduct.
Penalties for a burglary conviction
South Carolina law takes burglary seriously. If a judge or jury convicts you of first-degree burglary, you may spend the rest of your life in prison. Even lesser degrees of burglary have stiff penalties, though. Therefore, it is important to defend yourself aggressively against burglary charges. Nonetheless, you should not plead guilty to a crime you did not commit.
It is possible to run afoul of hundreds of laws. By understanding burglary’s elements and penalties, you can better plan for staying out of legal trouble.