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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 murder.
If you or a family member are facing burglary charges in SC, do not talk to police. Call your SC criminal defense lawyer immediately – burglary charges in SC are no joke, and you would not be the first defendant who lost a huge chunk of their life to the corrections system because they did not take it seriously.What Is Burglary in South Carolina?
Burglary in South Carolina does not necessarily involve "breaking and entering."
The state must prove that a person:
- Entered a dwelling or building;
- Without consent; and
- With the intent to commit a crime at the time they entered.
Whether a burglary is first, second, or third degree depends on whether you are accused of entering a “building” or a “dwelling,” and whether one or more aggravating factors are present at the time of the burglary.
A building may be a storage unit, a business, or any structure where people do not currently live. A dwelling is a home or other structure used as living quarters.What Are Aggravating Factors in a SC Burglary Case?
The aggravating factors that will “enhance” a burglary charge include:
- The burglary happened in the nighttime;
- The defendant (or a co-defendant) was armed with a weapon at the time of the crime (or took one from the location);
- The defendant (or a co-defendant) hurts someone who is not a participant in the crime; or
- The defendant has at least two prior convictions for burglary or housebreaking.
If a person enters a building and no aggravating factors are present, they can be charged with burglary third degree – the “least bad burglary” that carries up to five years in prison.Burglary Second Degree
Burglary in the second degree is when a person enters either:
- A dwelling and there are no aggravating factors present (punishable by up to ten years in prison); or
- A building and aggravating factors are present (punishable by up to 15 years in prison).
First degree burglary is when a person enters a dwelling and one or more aggravating factors are present (punishable by a minimum of 15 years up to life in prison).SC Burglary Crimes Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, Lexington, and Columbia
Many different defenses may be available to you, depending on the circumstances of your case. An effective independent investigation and 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 have been charged with a burglary crime in SC, call the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm now at (843) 444-6122 or contact us online to find out how we can help.