If you have been charged with burglary in SC, or if you think you are under investigation for burglary, you probably have some pressing questions surrounding the facts of the case.

If you want to read specifically about the fines, penalties and jail time associated with burglary in South Carolina then check out this article.

Otherwise, let’s get started!

First, let’s define the three elements of a burglary as they apply in South Carolina.

1. What is the definition of burglary?

Burglary is the unauthorized entry into a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime inside.

2. What does burglary mean?

To be charged with burglary, you must enter (even pushing your hand through a partially open door counts) a structure (a building, house or the like that is capable of housing people, animals or property) without the permission of the owner and must plan to commit a crime once inside.

Entering a structure can be by force—for example, breaking a window—or without using force—such as using fraud or blackmail to gain entrance.

And if you devised a plan ahead of time to commit a crime after entering a home or a building, you may face additional jail time.

3. Is burglary a felony?

Yes. In South Carolina, first, second and third degree burglary are felonies.

4. Is burglary considered a violent crime?

Yes. Both the first and second degrees of burglary are considered violent crimes.

5. Is burglary a “specific-intent” crime?

Yes, specific-intent means that you not only physically entered a dwelling or building without permission, but that you were also in the state of mind to commit a crime once inside.

6. Is there a difference between burglary and robbery?

Yes, a robbery occurs when property is taken by force. If you decide to hold up a convenience store clerk with a gun, forcing the clerk to empty the cash drawer, you will be looking at a robbery charge. Although many burglaries also involve robbery, breaking and entering a home or a business with the intent to commit a crime does not necessarily equal robbery, since you may not have used force to take the property.

7. What is the difference between burglary and theft?

Walking into an open convenience store in the middle of the day and stealing a candy bar is theft. You had permission to enter the store, but not to steal the candy bar.

However, burglary also involves entering a dwelling or business without permission. So if you entered the same convenience store at night when it was closed and without the owner’s permission, you could be charged with burglary.

8. What are burglary tools and are they illegal in SC?

Making or possessing tools that can be used in conjunction with a crime is illegal in South Carolina. Examples of tools that could be used in a burglary include:

  • Nippers
  • Nitroglycerine
  • Dynamite cap, coil or fuse
  • Steel wedge
  • Drill
  • Tap-pin
  • Any other implement or thing adapted, designed, or commonly used for the commission of burglary
  • Master keys (keys that will open multiple locks)
  • Nonowner key sets

9. What’s aggravated burglary?

Aggravated burglary does not exist in South Carolina.

Instead, burglary is classified in the first, second or third degree. First degree burglary is considered a violent crime that you might find yourself charged with if you enter a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime, and one or more of the following applies to your case:

  • You are armed with a deadly weapon or explosive
  • You cause physical injury to someone not involved in the crime
  • You threaten to use a dangerous instrument
  • You display what is or appears to be a knife, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or other firearm
  • You have a prior record of two or more convictions for burglary, housebreaking or a combination of both
  • You enter or remain in the dwelling during the nighttime

Based on the circumstances of your case, sentencing is as follows:

ChargeClassificationJail Time
1st degree burglaryFelony15 years to life imprisonment

10. What is second degree burglary?

Second degree burglary is broken down into two different charges—nonviolent and violent.

A second degree, non-violent burglary charge, means you entered a dwelling without consent and with the intent to commit a crime. None of the first degree burglary conditions are present.

In a second degree, violent burglary charge, you have entered a building without consent and with the intent to commit a crime, but also, one or more of the first degree burglary conditions apply. Therefore this charge comes with a more severe sentence.

ChargeClassificationJail Time
2nd degree burglary, Non-violentFelonyUp to 10 years
2nd degree burglary, ViolentFelonyUp to 15 years

11. What does third degree burglary mean?

A third degree burglary charge will apply if the crime meets the three basic elements of a burglary—you entered a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime inside—and it’s your first or second burglary offense.

ChargeOffenseClassificationJail Time
3rd degree burglary1stFelonyUp to 5 years
3rd degree burglary2ndFelonyUp to 10 years

12. Can burglary charges be dropped?

Yes, burglary charges can be dropped.

Police can make mistakes. A good defense attorney can analyze your case and poke holes in the prosecution’s case, which can result in dropped charges.

13. Can a burglary charge be reduced?

Burglary charges can be reduced to a lesser degree or a lesser charge. Most of the time, reduced charges will be part of a plea deal that your defense attorney negotiates with the prosecutor on your behalf.

14. Can burglary be expunged?

Burglary convictions cannot be expunged—or removed—from your criminal record.

15. Do I need a lawyer to fight burglary charges?

Yes, you do. Burglary charges in South Carolina are very serious, and because they can’t be removed from your record, having a good criminal defense lawyer on your side is crucial.

The attorneys at Kulp & Elliott are here to help. If you have further questions regarding burglary charges in South Carolina or are currently facing these charges, give us a call at 843-853-3310 or fill out our online form. We look forward to hearing the details of your case.

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