Call Us: 252-728-1208


Have you been charged with breaking or entering here in Carteret County? Due to the stigma attached to property crimes, it is important that you take immediate steps to secure legal representation. Beyond the inconvenience of dealing with criminal charges, a criminal conviction can negatively impact your life down the road, since a criminal offense will remain on your record. Breaking or entering convictions will throw your entire character into question, making it more difficult for you to even get a job and earn an honest living.

That’s why it’s crucial to act immediately. We recommend that you speak with an attorney to understand your upcoming court procedures, the sentence you may face, and the actions you can take to reduce the impact of your charge. We may be able to mitigate the sentencing of your charge, or we have your charge reduced or dropped together, depending on the specifics of your case. If you’re curious about what we can do as you face a breaking or entering charge, feel free to reach out to us for a free initial consultation. We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have and to provide you with the information you need to move forward. We’ve also cataloged a few of our most frequently asked questions, and their answers, below.


What does breaking or entering a building mean?

Breaking or entering is an offense where an individual breaks into or enters a building or motor vehicle. This offense may be charged as a Class H felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the details of the case. North Carolina statute § 14-54 outlines how breaking or entering charges may be applied for those who illegally enter a building:

“(a) Any person who breaks or enters any building with intent to commit any felony or larceny therein shall be punished as a Class H felon.

(a1) Any person who breaks or enters any building with intent to terrorize or injure an occupant of the building is guilty of a Class H felony.

(b) Any person who wrongfully breaks or enters any building is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

In addition, the state continues this statute by defining a “building.” Under that same law, the state notes that a building may be defined as “any dwelling, dwelling house, uninhabited house, building under construction, building within the curtilage of a dwelling house, and any other structure designed to house or secure within it any activity or property.”

If you’re curious about the charge that you’re facing, give us a call here at Cummings & Kennedy. We’ll work with you to let you know about the details of the charge that you face and the possible sentences.

Can you be charged for breaking and entering a motor vehicle as well as buildings?

Yes. Breaking or entering may be applied to those who attempt to break or enter into a motor vehicle, including vehicles aside from cars. North Carolina outlines some of the penalties that can be applied to a breaking or entering a motor vehicle charge in statute § 14-56: “If any person, with intent to commit any felony or larceny therein, breaks or enters any railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft of any kind, containing any goods, wares, freight, or other thing of value, or, after having committed any felony or larceny therein, breaks out of any railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft of any kind containing any goods, wares, freight, or other thing of value, that person is guilty of a Class I felony.”

Are there any instances where breaking or entering a motor vehicle is lawful?

North Carolina statute § 14-56 also outlines instances where it is not illegal to break or enter into a motor vehicle. There are three instances where it an individual may legally break or enter into a vehicle under North Carolina law — if one or more of the following applies:

“(1) The person acts in good faith to access the person inside the railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or watercraft of any kind in order to provide first aid or emergency health care treatment or because the person inside is, or is in imminent danger of becoming unconscious, ill, or injured.

(2) It is reasonably apparent that the circumstances require prompt decisions and actions in medical, other health care, or other assistance for the person inside the railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or watercraft of any kind.

(3) The necessity of immediate health care treatment or removal of the person from the railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft of any kind is so reasonably apparent that any delay in the rendering of treatment or removal would seriously worsen the physical condition or endanger the life of the person.”

If you think that you have been falsely accused of illegally breaking or entering a motor vehicle, then we may be able to build a case to have your charges dropped. Reach out to us for a free consultation, so that we can learn the details of your case.

What are the possible sentences for breaking or entering?

As was mentioned above, breaking or entering will be sentenced according to a variety of details surrounding the case. An individual may face a Class 1 misdemeanor, or a Class I or Class H felony if convicted of a breaking or entering offense.

Wrongfully breaking or entering a building without intent to commit a felony or larceny and without intent to terrorize or injure an inhabitant of that building is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor — this may include a sentence of up to 120 days of jail time, and a fine that will be set by the court.

Breaking or entering a building with intent to commit a felony or larceny or with intent to terrorize or injure an inhabitant of that building is considered a Class H felony — this may include a sentence of between 4 and 25 months in prison, as well as a fine determined by the court.

Breaking or entering into a motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony or larceny or with intent to terrorize or injure an individual in that motor vehicle is considered a Class I felony — this may include a sentence of between 3 and 12 months in prison, as well as a fine determined by the court.

What’s the difference between breaking or entering and trespassing?

Trespassing and breaking or entering offenses are similar, although they vary in intent and the severity of the crime. Trespassing is considered a lesser offense, and it is usually considered a misdemeanor offense, unless the trespass occurred on certain properties, or if the act of trespassing included intent to commit a further crime. Trespassing is also a more general term, under North Carolina law, and it includes the act of entering or remaining on specific property without authorization. If you believe your breaking or entering charge should be reduced to a trespassing charge, you can speak with us to learn more about your options and how we can present your case to the court. We provide free initial consultations, and we can assess the details of your case and help you to create a plan to have your charge reduced.

What are the benefits of hiring an attorney?

Hiring an attorney may be beneficial for a number of reasons. While you can defend and represent yourself in the courtroom, you may not know how to properly face prosecution and how to defend your rights. An attorney will guide you through the court process and help to defend you against unjust prosecution.

An attorney works with your best interests in mind, striving to mitigate the impact of your charges. In some cases, an attorney may be able to have your charge reduced (perhaps to trespassing) or dropped altogether. In other cases, an attorney may help to have your sentenced minimized.

If you’re curious about what we can do for you, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation.


When dealing with breaking or entering charges, you need to take immediate steps to build the strongest defense possible. At Cummings & Kennedy, our firm has over three decades of legal experience. We practice exclusively criminal defense and are in court every day. This gives us an in-depth understanding of the criminal process, as well as the area in which you have been charged. We know how to handle breaking or entering cases, and we want to fight to defend you and your rights.

Call an experienced property crime attorney from our firm today if you have been charged with breaking or entering here in Carteret County. We want you to understand the charge that you face, and we’ll guide you through the court process, aiming to earn you the best outcome for your circumstances.