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What is burglary?

Many people believe they understand all of the elements of a burglary charge, but the reality is that many myths exist and people often have an incorrect mental picture of what this crime looks like. It is important to break down these myths and truly understand the issues at hand, especially for those who are facing legal charges that they do not believe accurately represent what happened in the case.

Breaking into a structure

Many times, burglary is defined as breaking into a business or a home while intending to break the law. This is true, but it goes farther than that. You can face these charges for entering almost any structure. For instance, a school is neither a business nor a home. Neither is a church. You could face burglary charges after entering either one.

Understanding unlawful entry

When you think of unlawful entry, odds are you think of picking a lock, breaking a window or some other type of physical breaking and entering. Many burglaries do happen this way, but breaking and entering is not necessary. Say that a door is open to a building where the offender is not supposed to be. Just walking in through that door with the intent to commit a crime could be enough. This means that, depending on the situation, you may not get out of the charges just by arguing that the door was open and you did not have to force your way in.

Committing any crime

Perhaps the most common misconception is that burglary is the same as theft and involves taking items that do not belong to you. The truth is that you can face burglary charges for committing any crime after entering unlawfully -- or intending to commit any crime. It's not just theft. It's not just larceny. These things are common, but other illegal acts can also bring about burglary charges.

Burglary vs. robbery

Another related crime often confused with burglary is robbery. For a robbery, you must use force or the fear of force in order to take someone's property from them. A common example is showing up at a bank with a note that says you have a gun -- whether you actually have a gun or not. With burglary, you generally do not use either force or fear because it's most likely that there is no victim present when the crime takes place. People tend to unlawfully enter empty structures.

Your rights

This should help you break down some of the most common myths and misconceptions. If you find yourself facing serious criminal charges, make sure you take the time to look into all of the legal rights and options that you have.

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An Award-Winning LawyerFirm founder Dustin R.T. Sullivan has been recognized as one of the leading attorneys in North Carolina. His accolades include:

  • Super Lawyer2017 Rising Star in DWI Defense Super Lawyers of North Carolina
  • Superior DUI Attorney 20162016 Superior DUI Attorney ranking for fourth consecutive year by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense
  • Super Lawyer | Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Selected In 20172016 Public Service Award for Legal Aid of North Carolina
  • 10 Best 2017 | Attorney | Client Satisfaction 2015 10 Best Client Satisfaction Award by the American Institute of DUI/DWI Attorneys
  • NAFLA2015 Top 10 Ranking by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys
    • Top Rated On AVVO
    • Review Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Avvo
    • Top Contributor Award 2014 | Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Avvo
    • Avvo Rating 10.0 | Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Top Attorney
    • 2014 Top 100 Attorneys in North Carolina by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense
    • nafdd
  • StarNews Media | Finalist for Best Attorney2013 Finalist for Best Attorney in Cape Fear region by Wilmington Star News
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