Overview: Burglary Charges in New Jersey
Stealing from someone is a crime. But, there are many types of theft, and each carries with it a different level of severity and potential punishment. One of the most serious theft crime charges is burglary, and the consequences for a conviction can mean thousands of dollars in fines and a prison sentence. Here is a short guide to how burglary is charged in New Jersey, the potential consequences, and what you can do if you are charged with this serious crime.
What Is Burglary?
Burglary is defined as entering a structure owned by someone else with the intent to commit a felony or larceny while within. The structure may be a building like a house or a store but it can also extend to other structures attached to the property. One of the vital requirements for a burglary charge is permission. The offender must not have permission to enter that structure/building at that time. With a private home, this is often easily met. But with a structure that is sometimes open to the public, timing matters. If someone steals something from a store during business hours, this is still a theft crime, but not burglary. But if they do so after hours when the store is locked, their permission is considered revoked and therefore they can be charged with burglary.
How Is Burglary Charged In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, crimes are charged on a first degree to fourth degree scale, with the first being the most serious. Burglary crimes are charged as either second or third degree felonies depending on the circumstances and seriousness of the offense.
- Third degree. This charge covers the basic, general forms of burglary crimes. If convicted, the offender can spend up to five years in prison and pay up to $15,000 in fines. There are no lesser charges for first time offenders.
- Second degree. This is the more serious burglary charge, which is often exacerbated by additional criminal behavior like threats with a weapon. If convicted, someone can be sentenced from five to ten years in prison and receive fines of up to $150,000.
Reducing Burglary Charges
You and your attorney may be able to have your burglary charges reduced depending on your conduct during commission of the crime and other factors. Even though your actions may technically fit the definition of burglary, you can argue that the crimes committed after the break in are relatively minor, and ask for a plea deal. In the right circumstances a prosecutor may be willing to reduce charges to larceny or another lesser crime that is a fourth degree felony or even a disorderly persons charge, which carry lighter punishments. You can also work out a plea with the court for a suspended sentence, where you plead guilty to a crime but instead of serving any time in jail you are just put on probation. Those individuals with no previous criminal history are more likely to get a more lenient charge or sentence.
Contact An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Theft Crime Charges Today!
Were you arrested or charged with a theft crime in NJ? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The skilled attorneys at Garber Law represent clients charged with theft in South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County and Salem County, NJ. Call us at either 856-281-1480 or 866-556-2962, or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. Our NJ office is located at The Greens of Laurel Oak, 1200 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 104, Voorhees, NJ 08043.