One of the most common criminal charges in New Jersey is burglary. It is a very serious offense that carries severe penalties. According to the FBI, there were 31,710 burglaries reported by law enforcement in New Jersey in 2014, which means that there were 354.8 burglaries per 100,000 residents. In Jersey City alone, there were 887 burglaries during the same year.
Police pursue suspected burglars aggressively. If you’ve been charged with this offense, you need an experienced attorney to help you mount an effective defense. Bhatt Law Group may be able to help you with your case.
What is Burglary in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey statute, a burglary involves all of the following elements:
- Entering a facility, structure, or separately secured or occupied part of a structure
- During a time when it is not open to the public
- Without permission
- With the intention to commit a crime inside
Often, people think of burglary as a crime that is similar to theft. While it is true that you can commit a burglary if you break into a building with the intent to commit theft inside, burglary also occurs if you break into a building with the intent to commit other crimes inside as well. It is also burglary to remain in that place surreptitiously with the knowledge that you don’t have permission to do so.
The statute also defines burglary as trespassing on property owned by a utility company where there is a publicly-posted notice that prohibits trespassing, even though you don’t intend to commit any other crimes on that property.
Penalties for Burglary
Normally, burglary is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by three to five years of jail time and up to a $15,000 fine. However, the statute defines certain aggravated circumstances that upgrade the offense to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and up to a $150,000 fine. These aggravating circumstances include:
- If the offender purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly attempted or threatened to inflict bodily injury. Making a simple threat to hit or otherwise harm a building occupant would be enough.
- If the offender was armed with or displayed what seemed to be explosives or a deadly weapon. It doesn’t matter if the offender displayed a weapon – if a witness or a victim perceived it to be so, it is enough for a second-degree felony charge.
Speak with Bhatt Law Group Right Away
Bhatt Law Group has a group of veteran Jersey City burglary defense attorneys with decades of combined experience serving the people of Jersey City. We will take the time to examine the circumstances of your case and determine whether there is enough evidence to support the burglary charges and whether there are any viable defenses. We will make sure you have the information you need to make the right decisions regarding your case, such as whether to reach a plea agreement or defend against the charges at trial.
Call Bhatt Law Group immediately at (201) 798-8000 so we can discuss your options with you.