Burglaries are a unique kind of theft crime because they involve someone entering a property without permission and attempting to leave with property or assets that do not belong to them. Given that burglary involves home or business invasion, there is an increased risk of violence when compared with other forms of theft, like shoplifting, especially if someone is in the building at the time of the crime.
Given the potential charges and penalties involved, even for someone with no previous criminal record, those arrested need to explore what options they have regarding defending themselves.
New Jersey considers burglary a third-degree crime
Of all the degrees of different criminal offenses in New Jersey, the third-degree tier contains the most potential criminal charges. There are many felonies that are third-degree crimes under New Jersey statute, including burglary. Of those crimes, burglary is likely to be one of the offenses that receives harsher penalties.
A guilty plea or conviction could result in up to five years of incarceration and up to $15,000 in fines. Compared with drug possession or a shoplifting charge, it’s easy to see why judges and prosecutors may assign penalties closer to the maximum for burglary when compared with those other third-degree offenses.
Sometimes, burglary becomes a second-degree crime
There are cases of burglaries where people intentionally enter a property when others are there or bring weapons with the intention of threatening or intimidating residents if the burglars encounter them. These situations can easily escalate and can also traumatize the victims.
Whether the offense involves a baseball bat or a firearm, those who try to hurt someone during a burglary or who engage in burglary with a deadly weapon could face second-degree criminal charges under New Jersey law. The maximum jail sentence for a second-degree crime is 10 years in state prison and fines of as much as $150,000.
There are many defense options for those facing burglary charges, from questioning the quality and accuracy of security footage to establishing an alternative explanation for the presence of fingerprints or genetic information at a crime scene. Exploring all of these options can help you avoid the significant risks of a conviction.