Sentencing Guidelines for Breaking & Entering in North Carolina

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Criminal courts impose sentences based on principles of justice such as the crime's severity. In many states, criminals often don't serve their entire sentences because of overcrowding in prisons. North Carolina has used "structured sentencing" since 1994 to ensure that the most dangerous criminals serve the longest prison terms. Breaking and entering may be classified as a misdemeanor in North Carolina if it is not a precursor to further crime.

Class 1 Misdemeanor

  • In general, anyone who commits the crime of breaking and entering in North Carolina is charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor as of March 2011. Class 1 misdemeanors can be punished with up to 120 days in jail, depending on the person's criminal history. Most people convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor spend about 45 days in jail, according to criminal-defense attorney William Fay.

Felony Charges

  • North Carolina makes a distinction between breaking and entering as an act of vandalism and breaking and entering as part of the commission of a felony. If a person breaks into a building for the purpose of committing a more serious crime, such as burglary or kidnapping, that person is guilty of a class H felony. Felony sentencing is highly dependent on the person's criminal history; the criminal can serve anywhere from four years to 25 years for the breaking and entering in addition to whatever sentence she is given for the additional crime.

Structured Sentencing

  • North Carolina's sentencing guidelines take into account overcrowding at prisons. Criminals who are guilty of less serious felonies tend to serve shorter sentences than those who are guilty of more serious crimes, with the aim of reducing overcrowding and ensuring that prison space is reserved for the most dangerous criminals. Thus, breaking and entering for the purpose of committing a non-violent crime will receive a shorter sentence than breaking and entering to kidnap, rape or murder.

Points System

  • When a person is convicted of breaking and entering in North Carolina, the court uses a point system to determine the severity of her crime. The point system ranks her crime in terms of violence or harm to others as well as assigning extra points to criminals based on the number of similar crimes they have committed in the past. The number of points governs the maximum sentence length.

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