Burglary charges are typically filed involving home, business, and car break-ins. Motor vehicle burglaries have seen a rise and an increased willingness to investigate and prosecute on the part of law enforcement. Burglary charges need to be handled carefully since prosecutor’s offices sometimes object to PTI even for first-time offenders for this offense. Some judges have been said to sentence burglary defendants more severely than others charged with equally graded offenses, especially where the burglary involves a residence or home.
Burglary charges are closely related to the criminal offenses of receiving stolen property, and the two are commonly charged together. In many cases, the only evidence of the actual burglary is produced when the defendant sells or attempts to sell or pawn the items stolen during the burglary. This especially includes jewelry, and pawn shops check I.D. and keep detailed records of these transactions. In other cases, there may be witness identification, video, or physical evidence such as fingerprints or DNA evidence. It is important to note that a conviction for burglary does not merge with an offense for theft, robbery, or receiving stolen property.
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Burglary charges in New Jersey are typically graded as third-degree offenses in New Jersey. These expose the defendant to three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. The exception is that burglary can be a second-degree offense if it involves injuries or a deadly weapon. Threatening to injure another in the course of a burglary also escalates the charge to the second degree. The weapon can be an otherwise legal item such as a hammer or small knife. A second-degree conviction carries five to 10 years in prison, with a presumption of imprisonment even for first-time offenders. Getting into the PTI program on a second-degree offense is very difficult and requires the consent of the prosecutor. One option that may be available as an alternative to prison or jail is special probation, also known as drug court. This is not allowed though in cases involving violence.
a. Burglary defined. A person is guilty of burglary if, with purpose to commit an offense therein or thereon he:
b. Grading. Burglary is a crime of the second degree if in the course of committing the offense, the actor:
Otherwise burglary is a crime of the third degree. An act shall be deemed “in the course of committing” an offense if it occurs in an attempt to commit an offense or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission.
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