Burglary is commonly understood to mean breaking into someone’s house to steal from them. Technically, burglary has a much broader definition of this, and you can face burglary charges for a variety of illegal actions. If you are a college student charged with burglary, you could face serious penalties and jail time and potentially be expelled from school.
The NJ attorneys for Rowan University students accused of burglary at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free legal consultations on criminal charges. Your attorney can represent you in court and fight the evidence and witness testimony against you, potentially getting charges dropped and dismissed. For a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at 609-616-4956.
Definition of Burglary in New Jersey
As mentioned, burglary is much broader than a theft offense. Many people associate burglary with theft, but they may not be sure exactly what kind of theft is considered burglary. In reality, burglary is the crime of trespassing with the intent to commit another crime once inside.
Trespassing for burglary purposes does not need to be “breaking and entering.” While breaking down a door or picking a lock would certainly qualify for burglary charges, burglary can also be charged if you trespass by entering into an unlocked building without permission or if you secretly stay in an area where you are not allowed. For instance, remaining in a store overnight or climbing into a house through an open window would still satisfy the trespassing element of burglary.
Burglary charges require the intent to commit another crime once inside. The most common reason someone breaks into a building is in fact to steal, so burglary charges usually deal with theft. However, burglary can also be charged if you trespass with the intent to commit an assault, rape, kidnapping, destruction of property offense, or any other crime.
Since the definition of burglary only requires trespassing with the intent to commit another crime, you can still face charges if you change your mind after trespassing or ultimately fail to accomplish the crime. This means that if you are arrested after trespassing, interrupting the attempt to commit another crime, it does not block burglary charges. The crime of burglary is completed as soon as you trespass and failing to actually accomplish the crime does not reduce the charges to trespassing alone.
Penalties for Burglary in New Jersey
Burglary charges themselves might be complex, but the grading system is quite straightforward. Burglary is typically a third degree crime in New Jersey. This is a mid-level criminal offense and typically means facing 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. Prosecutors and judges have options to raise or lower these penalties within this range, but the presumption is that you will spend 4 years in prison.
In many cases, this prison sentence can be reduced to a term of probation. Probation involves a “suspended sentence” whereby the court establishes a prison sentence, but then does not activate it. Instead, you are put on probation and monitored by the court, requiring check-ins with a probation officer and other conditions on your freedom. If you follow these conditions and stay crime free, you will not go to jail. If you violate your probation or commit another crime, the court can activate the prison sentence and send you straight to jail.
Although burglary is usually a third degree crime, it can be upgraded to a second degree crime. A second degree crime is more serious and calls for 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000. This increased penalty typically comes if the actor tries to injure someone or uses a deadly weapon during the offense.
Burglary Charges for College Students in South Jersey
Burglary is not a particularly common crime among college students, but it does happen. In many cases, students are not allowed into other students’ dorms without explicit permission, and something as simple as sneaking into their dorm to take something could be considered full-fledged burglary. Similarly, entering areas of the school marked for employees could also result in burglary charges.
In many cases, accusations of burglary come from simple trespassing cases. Trespassing is a far lower-level offense and results in far lower penalties. In many cases where your intent to steal or commit another crime is vague or difficult to prove, you may be able to avoid burglary charges. Our attorneys can help fight to have your charges reduced.
Other cases involving burglary for college students may occur because of situations off campus. In these cases, burglary charges can come from theft from stores, warehouses, factories, private homes, or other locations. If the offense in question involved working with others or a criminal organization or gang, you may also face charges for conspiracy to commit burglary. Even if you played a low-level part in the crime, such as working as a “getaway driver,” you could still face full penalties for committing the crime because of the conspiracy charges.
Any charges for burglary are extremely serious and could lead to time in prison. Conviction of a third or second degree crime can become part of your criminal record and make it difficult to continue your college education or seek employment.
Call our Rowan University Burglary Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you are a Rowan University student that has been charged with burglary in New Jersey, call our law offices today to discuss your case. Our NJ attorneys for Rowan University students accused of burglary may be able to take your case and work to get charges reduced and dismissed. For a free legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at 609-616-4956.