Burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2

Burglary is New Jersey indictable (felony) offense that can be punished by up to 10 years in state prison depending on the facts of the case. Essentially, there are two basic elements to the commission of a burglary offense 1) entering a structure 2) with the purpose to commit an offense once  inside it. But take note, the offense inside need not be actually committed. It is the intent to do so that is important.

Also, the statute does not require that the defendant actually break into the structure. If the door is open, and the defendant walks in with the intent to commit a criminal offense inside, he could still be found guilty.But remember, if the structure is open to the public, or the defendant was given permission to be there, a burglary charge will not stick. Of course, if the defendant steals something while inside, he will still be charged with theft.

Under normal circumstances, burglary is a 3rd degree offense, punishable by up to 5 yrs in state prison. However, if during the course of the offense the defendant purposely inflict or attempts to inflict bodily injury, or if the defendant displays a weapon, it is a 2nd degree offense punishable by up to 10 yrs in prison.

The important thing to remember is that in order to sustain a conviction for burglary the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant entered a structure with no license to do so, and enters the structure with the purpose to commit a crime therein. Remember, if you enter a structure, but do not have the intent to commit a crime, then you are not guilty of burglary. Like wise, if you enter a structure, and do not develop intent to commit a crimes until after you have entered, you may not be guilty of burglary then. The two elements must work in concert.

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