When trying to understand the difference between burglary and breaking and entering, you may feel some confusion. It is understandable, as the two offenses have certain qualities in common. Both involve unlawful entry of a building and both impose greater penalties if there is intent to commit another crime upon the premises.

However, the North Carolina General Assembly makes a distinction between the two offenses. The following is a brief overview of the differences between the two and the classification of each.

Differences between breaking and entering and burglary

North Carolina statutes define burglary specifically as entry into a dwelling, a building on the same property as a dwelling or a room used as a sleeping apartment. Breaking and entering, on the other hand, is an unlawful entry into a building generally.

Degrees of severity

Breaking and entering into a building, including dwellings but not limited to them, is at least a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if the intent was to cause injury to an occupant of the building or commit a felony such as larceny, then breaking and entering becomes a Class H felony.

There are two degrees of burglary. Second-degree burglary is the lesser offense of the two. If you were to enter a sleeping apartment or dwelling unlawfully but the occupant was not present at the time, you could face charges of second-degree burglary, a Class G felony. Another example of a second-degree burglary is the entry into a building not used as a sleeping apartment but within the curtilage of a dwelling. First-degree burglary is a Class D felony and occurs when an occupant of the dwelling or sleeping apartment is present at the time of the unlawful entry.