Burglary Attorney in Ocean and Monmouth County NJ
A serious offense that requires proper criminal defense and legal guidance
In trying times such as these, the cases of burglary often increase. In New Jersey, burglary is the act of illegally entering a structure to commit theft or another crime. Because burglary is not simply a means of stealing material, but could also result in danger to someone’s physical safety, the consequences for committing burglary in New Jersey are steep. Depending on whether the intruder is armed, penalties can include up to $150,000 and up to 10 years in prison for burglary, in addition to a criminal record that could take many years to expunge. Navigating a burglary charge is a delicate process that requires the support of a qualified criminal defense attorney.
What is “burglary” according to New Jersey law?
According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice Section 2C: 18-2, burglary is defined as illegally entering a “research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof” in order to “commit an offense therein.” In other words, any enclosed space can be considered the “structure” that it is illegal to enter if you are not the rightful owner. Contrary to popular belief, burglary does not necessarily mean “breaking and entering.” Simply entering a structure can constitute burglary if there is an intent to commit a crime. The intent to commit a crime is the key aspect separating burglary from a simple trespassing charge or unlicensed entry charge.
What is the difference between a third-degree and a second-degree burglary offense?
In the case that someone enters another’s a property with the intention of stealing or committing another crime, this is considered a third-degree offense, which is the most minor of burglary charges. Penalties for a third-degree burglary offense are up to $15,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
A second-degree burglary offense involves threat of physical injury. This type of burglary charge occurs when the defendant is found to have intentionally or recklessly inflicted or attempted to inflict bodily injury, or threatened bodily injury, or illegally enters the structure while armed with a deadly weapon. As one can imagine, the penalties for second-degree burglary are much steeper. Penalties include fines of up to $150,000 and between 5 and 10 years of prison for these charges.
According to the New Jersey Graves Act of 2008, if a person is found to be in possession of a firearm at the time of the incident and is successfully charged with second-degree burglary, they will have to serve a full 85 percent of their sentence before they become eligible for parole.
The Merger Doctrine
Burglary is a crime for which there are often accompanying charges. Whether or not more than one charge is filed depends on the intent and execution of the burglary. For example, theft, robbery, and even assault with a deadly weapon often accompany the burglary. When there is more than one charge, usually the lesser charge is merged into the greater charge. For example, if someone was to break the lock on a garage and enter in order to steal a lawnmower, the defendant could be charged with third-degree burglary (because of the absence of harm or threat thereof to another individual), breaking and entering, and theft. In many cases, however, due to the Merger Doctrine, the breaking and entering and theft charges would be tossed out in service of the more serious second-degree burglary charge. There are, however, cases in which law enforcement will file multiple charges against a defendant involved in a burglary instead of merging charges. This is usually in an attempt to dissuade a defendant from engaging in such illegal activities in the future.
What do I do if I have been charged with burglary?
If you have been charged with burglary, it is imperative that you have the knowledgeable support of a criminal defense attorney. Many defendants make the mistake of attempting to defend themselves or make their case in the absence of a present attorney; this is inadvisable and may lead to self-incrimination. An experienced criminal defense attorney will also be skilled in helping a defendant navigate the process of multiple charges and may help the defendant get additional lesser charges thrown out by the grand jury.
Seek the assistance of your Monmouth and Ocean County Attorneys
At Peter J. Bronzino, Esq, we support our clients across Asbury Park, Wall, Manasquan, Neptune, Spring Lake, and surrounding towns in navigating burglary and other related charges.
Our approach sees to it that our clients’ rights are ensured by investigating police handling of the incident and other factors that may have impacted our clients’ right to justice.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our team today regarding your case, please call (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation.