If you have been charged with the crime of
burglary you will need a criminal defense lawyer to represent you. Whether
you hire or retain a criminal defense attorney will likely depend upon your and
your family's financial status. Anyone who is financially unable to retain a
criminal defense attorney will be eligible to have a court-appointed lawyer or
public defender. If the case is assigned to the public defender's office,
you or your family can still retain a criminal defense attorney. The
circumstances for most people is that they need financial assistance from family
members in order to be able to afford to hire an attorney.
If you or a family member has been arrested and charged
with the offense of burglary you may contact our office for an appointment.
Attorney Greg McCollum has represented many people charged with the offense of
burglary over the years. Cases have been dismissed and expunged from the
person's criminal record, cases have been reduced and referred to Pre Trial
Intervention, cases have resulted in guilty pleas to probation. Other
cases have gone to trial and the person was found not guilty by a jury, and on
some cases the person has been convicted at trial of a lesser charge of burglary
in the second degree and found not guilty on the greater charge of burglary in
the first degree, which resulted in a less severe prison sentence.
There are three types of burglary offenses in South
Carolina. Burglary First Degree, Burglary Second Degree and Burglary Third
Degree. First Degree Burglary is the most serious. All degrees of
burglary are felonies. Most people think of burglary as the crime of
breaking and entering or housebreaking with the intent to steal. While
that may be the case, an intent to steal is no longer required. One may be
charged with burglary if the state alleges an intent to commit a crime within
the house or building, which could be an intent to assault or some other type of
offense. Additionally, most people think of burglary as involving a
breaking in or requiring some type of forcible entry, however, the offense does
not require a break in, it requires the entering to be without consent or
Many times when someone is arrested and charged with
burglary, the person is charged on multiple warrants with multiple burglaries
alleged to have been committed on separate days. Typically those are
considered separate crimes which cannot be joined together for one trial.
The significance of that is the prosecutor may have to elect which case to
prosecute at trial and choose one case over another based upon the strength of
Several factors need to be considered depending on the
charge or charges, the evidence available, and the circumstances surrounding the
The Offense of Burglary in South Carolina
Burglary was a common Law Offense defined as breaking and entering a dwelling
during the night with intent to steal.
That definition and what constitutes a charge of burglary has been
altered considerably over the years.
In South Carolina, there are three types or degrees of Burglary.
Burglary in the first degree is the most serious.
Someone charged with First Degree Burglary must have a bond hearing
before a state circuit judge because a magistrate or municipal judge lacks
authority to set bond. The only
other criminal offense in South Carolina where a Summary Court Judge lacks
authority to set bond is for a charge of Murder and the most serious form of
Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor.
Like Murder, First
Degree Burglary carries a possible punishment of up to life imprisonment without
the possibility of parole. The
minimum penalty for Burglary in the First Degree is not less than fifteen years
imprisonment. The elements of the
crime of Burglary in the First Degree are: entering a dwelling without consent
and with intent to commit a crime at night or while entering, or while inside or
while fleeing: the person is armed
with a deadly weapon or explosive or injures another person or uses or
threatens, with a dangerous instrument, or displays a knife firearm or the
person committing the offense has two prior burglary convictions on his or her
Burglary in the
Second Degree, is two separate offenses with different possible penalties
depending upon whether the charge is the unlawful entering of a dwelling, where
someone resides, versus a building which is not used as a dwelling, typically a
business or some type of detached garage or storage building.
A person charged under Section (A) of the Burglary Second Degree code
section is charged with entering a dwelling during the day time with intent to
commit a crime inside. The maximum
penalty is a possible incarceration for up to ten years.
The other form of
Second Degree Burglary is entering a building without consent with intent to
commit a crime, accompanied by one of the same aggravating factors as the
Burglary First Statute: That is the
person charged is accused of doing an aggravated factor while entering, while
inside or while in flight from the scene. The possible
aggravating factors are that the person accused: (1) is armed
with a deadly weapon or explosive or (2) causes physical injury to another or
(3) uses or threatens the use of a dangerous instrument or (4) displays a knife
or firearm or (5) the offense is committed by a person with two prior
convictions for burglary or (6) the entry occurs at night.
The penalty for Burglary Second Degree under Section (B) is up to fifteen
years imprisonment and is not eligible for parole until after serving at least
one third of the sentence.
The other type of
Burglary charge is Burglary in the Third Degree, which is defined as entering a
building without consent and with intent to commit a crime, therein.
Burglary in the Third Degree is a felony and
carries up to a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or up to ten years
imprisonment if it is a second offense.