More than 1.4 million burglaries are reported in the United States each year. South Carolina ranks number 7 in the nation for the number of home burglaries. Our state has a rate of 664.7 reported break-ins per every 100,000 people.
The facts show that not all burglary crimes are committed by the individuals who are charged with the crime. When you are charged with a burglary, it can be a traumatic experience, especially when you didn't do it and you're trying to protect your rights. Our South Carolina burglary criminal defense lawyers can help you protect and assert your rights at every stage of your case.
Types of Burglary in South Carolina
According to the SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-311- 16-11-313, burglary is defined as entering a dwelling (home) or building without permission with the intent to commit a crime therein. Currently, there are three degrees of burglary in South Carolina and there are five different possible classifications of this crime, as follows:
- First degree burglary in South Carolina occurs when a person enters a home and is armed with a deadly weapon or explosive, causes physical injury to a victim, displays a weapon during the crime or threatens to use a weapon. A person can also be charged with this crime if he or she has a criminal record of two or more burglary or housebreaking convictions or if they committed the crime at nighttime.
- Second degree burglary in South Carolina (violent) has the same definition as 1st degree burglary in South Carolina. However, this crime is committed when the events occur in a non-residential building instead of a person's home.
- Second degree burglary in South Carolina nonviolent is second degree burglary without an aggravating circumstance, such as committing the crime in the daytime or not having a weapon.
- Third degree burglary in South Carolina first offense is committed when a person enters a building without permission and with the intent to commit a crime while therein and this is the only burglary offense for which the person has been convicted.
- Third degree burglary in South Carolina second offense occurs when the same elements for 3rd degree burglary are committed and the person has been previously convicted of burglary.
Punishment for Burglary in South Carolina
All degrees of burglary in South Carolina are considered felony offenses. Upon conviction, the possible penalties for burglary in South Carolina are as follows:
- 1st degree burglary is punishable by a term of 15 years to life imprisonment.
- 2nd degree burglary (violent) carries a maximum penalty of 15 years. Additionally, the SC Code of Laws requires that a person convicted of this offense not be eligible for parole until they have served at least one-third of their sentence.
- 2nd degree burglary (nonviolent) carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
- 3rd degree burglary second offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- 3rd degree burglary first offense is punishable by up to 5 years' imprisonment.
The potential penalty for burglary in South Carolina is very severe; therefore, it is important to work with an experienced South Carolina burglary criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights.
How Can a South Carolina Burglary Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?
Our lawyers are skilled and knowledgeable about the nature of these charges and the potential penalties you face. We conduct a thorough investigation to lodge the best criminal defense, based upon the individual circumstances of your case. We will investigate the crime, interview witnesses and determine which defenses will best help you in your case.
Defenses to Burglary Charges in South Carolina
The accused person has rights and defenses which apply to burglary charges in South Carolina. Our lead attorney Freddy Woods, associate attorneys and staff will review the details of your case to find defenses that apply and help you. Defenses include:
- Permission — Burglary does not happen unless a person entered a structure like a home or non-residential building without consent. If the person had permission from the owner or someone they believed had the authority to give them this permission, the prosecutor cannot prove this element of the charge.
- Lack of intent — This defense is based upon a person's lack of intent once they were inside the structure. If a person was not trying to get into a building or home to commit a crime while therein, this is an example of a lack of intent.
- Not a “building” or “dwelling” — The prosecutor must establish that an individual actually entered a “dwelling” or “building,” as defined by the SC Code of Laws. If the structure did not meet either of these definitions, burglary cannot be proven.
- Innocence — In some situations, the person charged with the crime simply did not do it or was not present.
- Intoxication — If an individual was intoxicated and accidentally entered a dwelling without permission or did not have the mental capacity to form an intent to commit a crime, this can be used as a defense.
- Coercion — In other situations, a person may have been forced to enter a property under the threat of someone else. This is also a defense to the crime of burglary.
- Mistake of fact — An individual may have made a mistake of fact, such as a person believing that the property he or she entered was owned or belonged to him or a friend and that the individual had permission to enter it.
When you or a loved one is charged with burglary, you need a strong defense team that can also go on the offensive on your behalf. Contact your legal team at the Woods Law Firm to plan your strategy and fight your case for you.
Contact a South Carolina Burglary Criminal Defense Lawyer
We work quickly to start your case and help you minimize and/or eliminate the consequences. Call the Woods Law Firm at (864) 298-8111, complete our online contact form, or text us at (864) 810-0384 for an immediate consultation on how we can help you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Burglary in South Carolina
We receive many questions about burglary charges in South Carolina. Here are some of the most common ones and their answers.
What is First Degree Burglary in South Carolina?
1st degree burglary in South Carolina is committed when someone breaks into a dwelling without permission with the intent of committing a crime. The code section for this offense is listed at SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-311.
There are aggravating circumstances, such as carrying a deadly weapon, committing the crime at night or having a criminal record with prior burglary convictions.
What Is 2nd Degree Burglary in South Carolina?
Burglary 2nd degree in South Carolina can be charged as a violent or nonviolent offense. 2nd degree burglary in South Carolina violent is committed when you break into a non-residential structure with the intent to commit a crime while in the structure and an aggravating circumstance like two prior burglary convictions, committing the crime at night or threatening to use a weapon. The code section that applies to this offense is SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-312(A). In contrast, 2nd degree burglary in South Carolina nonviolent occurs when you break into a non-residential structure with the intent to commit a crime without any aggravating circumstances. The code section that applies to this offense is SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-312(B).
What Is Burglary 3rd in South Carolina?
Third degree burglary in South Carolina can be charged as a first offense or second offense. 3rd degree burglary in South Carolina first offense occurs when you commit a burglary without any aggravating circumstances and you were never convicted of burglary. The code section that applies to this offense is SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-313(A). 3rd degree burglary in South Carolina second offense is charged when you commit a burglary without any aggravating circumstances, but you do have a criminal record for a prior burglary conviction. The code section that applies to this offense is SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-313(B).
What Are the Penalties for Burglary in South Carolina?
The penalties for burglary in South Carolina include:
- First degree burglary — Imprisonment of 15 years to life.
- Second degree burglary (violent) — Up to 15 years in prison.
- Second degree burglary (nonviolent) — Up to 10 years in prison.
- Third degree burglary second offense — Imprisonment up to 10 years in prison.
- Third degree burglary first offense — Up to 5 years' imprisonment.
Contact the Woods Law Firm at (864) 298-8111 or (864) 810-0384 for an immediate consultation and for help with details for your case.
What Other Criminal Charges Can I Face?
In addition to potentially facing burglary charges, you could be charged with the underlying crime that you committed. For example, many people are charged with grand larceny in SC if the value of property they took after breaking into a property was $2,000 or more. Petit larceny charges may arise if the value of property was less than this.