Burglary is a serious criminal offense in South Carolina that can upend your life. The penalties range from decades in prison to thousands of dollars in fines, depending on the circumstances of your charges. As such, it’s vital to understand the available defenses that could potentially help you combat your charges. When facing burglary charges, it’s in your best interest to contact a determined Chesterfield Criminal Defense Lawyer who can help you devise the best legal strategy to prevent harsh penalties.
What is burglary in South Carolina?
Firstly, each state defines burglary differently, leading to variations in the crime’s necessary elements. In South Carolina, burglary is defined as when a person enters an enclosed area, such as a building or dwelling, without consent and with the intent to commit a crime. Unlawful entry and criminal intent are the two elements that must be met to constitute a burglary charge. Essentially, the prosecution will be burdened with having to prove that you entered into a structure without permission and that you made a decision to commit a crime. In South Carolina, there are different degrees of burglary based on the severity of the offense, which all carry different penalties. Nevertheless, all burglary charges are considered felony offenses.
What are the possible defenses to burglary charges?
If you’re facing burglary charges in South Carolina, don’t panic just yet. Fortunately, several defenses could help shield you from your charges. It’s crucial to seek the legal assistance of an experienced lawyer who can help you explore the available defenses for your specific circumstances and raise arguments in court to challenge the prosecution’s claims. The following include, but are not limited to, some of the possible defenses for burglary charges:
- Lack of intent. To be charged with burglary, the defendant must have intended to commit a crime. If the defendant was found on the property but had no criminal intent, burglary is not a suitable charge. Therefore, if you can establish that your purpose for entering the structure was not to commit a crime, it can challenge the burglary charge.
- Unlawful entry. If a defendant had the property owner’s permission or were invited to enter the property, they would not have committed burglary. Another critical element of burglary charges is unlawful entry. If the defendant can prove that they had consent to enter the premises or mistakenly understood themselves to have permission, they can challenge their charges. In addition, if the space were open to the public, it would not constitute burglary.
- Mistaken identity. In some cases, a witness may make an incorrect or questionable identification of the perpetrator. In such cases, you could argue that you were wrongfully accused. To demonstrate that it is a mistaken identity, you can provide surveillance footage and an alibi of your whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime.
If you’ve been charged with burglary, you’re facing severe penalties. As such, you need to enlist the help of a qualified lawyer from the Cockrell Law Firm, P.C., who can help defend your rights and interests. Our legal team is prepared to help you determine the best course of action to maximize your chances of the best possible outcome.