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North Carolina Burglary Laws

The crimes of burglary and robbery are often confused. Although both offenses share similarities, such as being classified as property crimes, a major distinction that separates them is that burglary does not involve a display of force like robbery does. But even without the element of force, burglary is still a serious crime with strict penalties.

Degrees of Burglary

North Carolina recognizes two degrees of burglary: first degree and second degree. The state uses the common law definition of burglary: a non-permissible breaking and entering into a dwelling (home) with the intent to commit a crime such as a theft. If you burglarize a home when the building is occupied, then the burglary is in the first degree; if no one is home when you burglarize, then the crime is classified as second degree burglary.

The type of building matters. If the building involved is something other than a dwelling or home, then you could be charged with the lesser offense of breaking and entering. The charge is upgraded to a felony if you break into the building with the intent to commit a crime. The charges are also elevated if you break into a place of religious worship.

North Carolina Burglary Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to North Carolina's burglary laws, including links to important code sections.


  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-51 (First degree, second degree burglary)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-54 (Breaking and entering)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-54.1 (Breaking and entering a place of religious worship)

Penalties and Sentencing


North Carolina uses a complex sentencing formula; the actual sentence will depend on factors such as prior criminal history.

First degree burglary

  • Class D felony, punishable by 64- 80 months incarceration with no prior criminal record.

Second degree burglary

  • Class G felony, punishable by 8 -31 months incarceration.

Breaking and entering

  • Breaking and entering in the first degree is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Breaking and entering any building with intent to commit larceny or a felony is a Class H felony, carrying a presumptive term of 6 months of incarceration for first-time offenders.
  • Breaking and entering a place of religious worship is a Class G felony, punishable by 10- 13 months incarceration where there is no criminal history.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent

Related Offenses

  • Preparation to commit burglary or other housebreakings: North Carolina General Statues 14-55
  • Breaking or entering into/breaking out: vehicles, boats, aircraft: North Carolina Statutes 14-56

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Burglary Laws: Related Resources

Get an Attorney to Help with Your Burglary Case

If you've been accused of violating North Carolina's burglary laws, then you should consider talking to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your options. Take control of your case by contacting a local attorney immediately.

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