The crime of burglary carries serious penalties no matter where you are charged. And no matter where you are charged, there is the potential that you will go to prison if convicted. But, each state is unique in how they define, classify and prosecute burglary. In New Jersey, the offense is treated quite harshly.
Like other states, you don’t have to be successful in your burglary attempt in order to be charged. You may have broken into a building to steal something and walked away empty handed—you can still be convicted.
Knowing what you are up against can make facing the charges a bit more frightening, but it helps when it is time to develop a defense strategy with your attorney.
Some burglary defendants admit guilt and seek a lenient sentence, while others maintain their innocent throughout the criminal justice process. No matter where you fall within this spectrum, an attorney may be able to help you make the most of your situation.
New Jersey Burglary Laws and Penalties
In general, burglary is classified as a crime in the third degree, carrying a 3 to 5 year prison sentence.
Burglary is defined as: entering or remaining on property that you have no lawful right to be on for the purpose of committing an offense.
This could even apply if you enter a property legally during business hours but stay behind after they close, or if you break into a warehouse that is not open to the public. We often think of burglary as a theft charge, but New Jersey law says it applies to the committing of “any offense”.
In some cases, burglary charges can be elevated to a crime of the second degree. This charge carries a potential 5 to 10 year prison sentence. If you commit a burglary, as defined above, and in the commission of the act you use a weapon, or inflict, attempt to inflict or threaten to inflict bodily harm on someone, you could face this elevated charge.
Burglary Legal Defense Strategies
The right defense strategy for your New Jersey burglary case will entirely depend on the facts of your case, your criminal history and a variety of other factors. A local attorney can help you determine what the best course of action is.
Sometimes a favorable plea agreement can be reached with the prosecution, giving you a possibly more lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. In other cases, however, fighting the charges at trial is the right thing to do.
If you are charged with burglary, allow us to put you in touch with a New Jersey criminal attorney today.