In South Carolina, burglary crimes are classified as first, second, or third degree. First degree burglary is punishable by up to life in prison, and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years. It is among the most serious crimes in our state, second only to homicide.
Burglary in South Carolina does not necessarily involve "breaking and entering." What the state has to prove to convict is that a person: entered a dwelling or building; without consent; and with the intent to commit a crime at the time they entered. Burglary first degree is where a person enters a dwelling, and one or more aggravating factors are present: the person is armed with a weapon (or takes a weapon from the residence); the burglary occurs in the nighttime; or the person has at least two prior convictions for burglary or housebreaking.
Burglary second degree is when a person enters a dwelling without the presence of aggravating factors, or when a person enters a building (a business or storage building usually) and one or more aggravating factors are present. Burglary second degree is punishable by up to either ten or fifteen years in prison, depending on what section of the statute the person is charged with. A second degree burglary based on the defendant entering a dwelling is punishable by up to ten years, while a second degree burglary which is enhanced from a third degree burglary based on aggravating factors is punishable by up to fifteen years. Burglary third degree is when a person enters a building and no aggravating factors are present, and it is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Many different defenses may be available to you, depending on the circumstances of your case. An aggressive defense in a burglary case could make the difference between a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years or a reduced charge and probation - or it could mean the difference between a guilty verdict or acquittal at trial. If you are charged with a burglary crime, call our Myrtle Beach office at 843-444-6122 or contact us online to find out how we can help.