Robbery Burglary Breaking and Entering North Carolina Jamie Vavonese Law Firm NC

The state of North Carolina has numerous criminal laws pertaining to burglary and other related crimes. Below are some examples of burglary, home invasion, robbery, breaking and entering, and trespass laws in North Carolina. These are just a few of the laws on the books. If you have been accused of burglary or other related crimes, you need to contact an attorney right away. Vavonese Law Firm is skilled in criminal defense and can help you understand your rights and the charges against you.

Burglary and Homes Invasion

North Carolina retains the traditional definition of burglary. Breaking and entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony (a crime punishable by time in prison) or theft inside.  

“Breaking and entering” is using any amount of force to enter a building without permission. Even if a door or window is unlocked, it is considered breaking and entering if you do not have permission to be in the dwelling.  A dwelling is a place where  people live and/or sleep. If you break into a dwelling that is occupied, the burglary is punished more severely (i.e. first degree burglary). If the dwelling is not occupied, then the crime is second degree burglary. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-51.)

Breaking and Entering

Breaking and entering can be categorized in multiple ways in the state of North Carolina. “Felonious breaking and entering” is breaking and entering into any building with the intent to commit a felony or theft, or with intent to injure or terrorize the building’s inhabitants. Simply breaking and entering into a building without permission, is a much less serious crime. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-54, 14-54.1.) Breaking and entering is punished more severely if the building is a place of worship, such as a church, mosque, or synagogue.

The following are also crimes related to breaking and entering in North Carolina: To break into, with the intent to commit a felony or theft:

  • a building, and open or attempt to open any safe or vault or “other secure place” with explosives, or
  • a vehicle (a car, boat, trailer, railroad car, or airplane).

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-56, 14-57.)

Intent to Commit a Crime

For burglary and felonious breaking and entering, the defendant must enter with the intent to commit a felony or theft. Prosecutors, however do not need to establish exactly why the defendant committed these actions. In fact, the jury is able to infer from the fact that a defendant broke into and entered a building or vehicle without permission that defendant intended to commit a crime. The crime of burglary occurs as soon as the defendant enters into the building or vehicle with the illicit intent, even if the intended felony or theft never occurs.


Most of the time, trespass is a less serious crime than burglary or breaking and entering. Second degree trespass in North Carolina occurs by entering or remaining on property on which “No Trespassing” signs are posted, or after having been told not to enter by the owner or occupant. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-159.13.) First degree trespass is a more a more serious crime. This is committed by entering without permission: property that is fenced or otherwise enclosed, or a building.

First degree trespass is punished more severely if the property is a utility company. This could be something such as power station, natural gas facility, public water treatment or storage facility. The defendant would have actually entered the building or scaled a fence. Trespassing on property belonging to a utility company is punished even more severely if the defendant intended to disrupt the operation of the facility, or if the trespass placed anyone at risk of injury. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-159.12.)

Under North Carolina’s laws, domestic trespass is also a crime. If a person enters or refuses to leave the home of a current or former spouse or domestic partner (if the parties are living apart and the spouse has asked the defendant to leave or not to enter), they are committing domestic trespass. If the defendant is armed or if the victim is at a domestic violence shelter, the crime is typically punished more severely. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-134.3.) 

Burglary Tools and Tools for Breaking Into Vehicles

In North Carolina, it is a crime to possess tools used to force entry into buildings or vehicles. For example, it is a crime to possess, without a good reason, any lock pick, key, or other tool used for breaking into buildings. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-55.) It is also a crime to possess a vehicle master key, or tools for picking car locks or “hotwiring” with the intent to commit a crime. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-56.4.)


First degree burglary and burglary with explosives are Class D felony charges, and burglary in the second degree is a Class G felony (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-52.) Burglary of a vehicle is a Class I felony, punishable by three to 12 months in prison.

Breaking and entering a place of worship is also Class G felony. Breaking and entering a building to commit a crime or cause injury or terror is a Class H felon. Otherwise, breaking and entering is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Second degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Depending on the circumstances, first degree trespass may be a Class 2 misdemeanor, a Class A1 misdemeanor, or a Class H felony. Domestic trespass is a Class 1 misdemeanor, unless the defendant is armed or the victim is at a domestic violence shelter, in which case the crime is a Class G felony. Possession of burglary tools is a Class I felony. Possession of tools for breaking into vehicles is a Class 1 misdemeanor, but second or subsequent violations are Class I felonies.

If you have been accused of any of the crimes above or another crime related to robbery, burglary, breaking and entering, or trespass, contact Jamie Vavonese today. She will review your case and work with you to create the best possible defense. 919.833.7454.