New Jersey Burglary Statute | N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2

     Burglary is a very serious crime in New Jersey, and conviction for it is even more serious.  This is a different offense than most Theft Offensesand carries far harsher consequences.  For our main NJ Burglary Defense Attorney page, see here.

New Jersey Burglary laws are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2.  This statute sets out the various penalties for Burglary, with a possible 10 years in prison, $150,000 Fine, and a Criminal Record.

Can I fight my Burglary Charge?

To properly defend your NJ Burglary case you must be intimately familiar with all aspects a Burglary case may take on.  From disproving elements of the States case, to having evidence suppressed, with over 40 years experience as a Judge, Prosecutor, and Criminal Defense Lawyer, the Attorneys of Avery & Avery know how to keep you out of trouble.  As NJ Criminal Burglary Defense Lawyers, we have mastered the identification of flaws in the States case, and will work with you to either avoid a criminal conviction, or have the case thrown out completely.  

What is Burglary?

In NJ, Burglary is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, reproduced in full below:

          a. Burglary defined. A person is guilty of burglary if, with purpose to commit an offense therein or thereon he:

          (1) Enters a research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof unless the structure was at the time open to the public or the actor is licensed or privileged to enter;

          (2) Surreptitiously remains in a research facility, structure, or a separately secured or occupied portion thereof knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so; or

          (3) Trespasses in or upon utility company property where public notice prohibiting trespass is given by conspicuous posting, or fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.

          b. Grading. burglary is a crime of the second degree if in the course of committing the offense, the actor:

          (1) Purposely, knowingly or recklessly inflicts, attempts to inflict or threatens to inflict bodily injury on anyone; or

          (2) Is armed with or displays what appear to be explosives or a deadly weapon.

          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.

What are Burglary tools?

In NJ, the use of Burglary Tools is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:5-5, reproduced in full below:

Burglar’s Tools.

a. Any person who manufactures or possesses any engine, machine, tool or implement adapted, designed or commonly used for committing or facilitating any offense in chapter 20 of this Title or offenses involving forcible entry into premises.

(1) Knowing the same to be so adapted or designed or commonly used; and

(2) With either a purpose so to use or employ it, or with a purpose to provide it to some person who he knows has such a purpose to use or employ it, is guilty of an offense.

b. Any person who publishes plans or instructions dealing with the manufacture or use of any burglar tools as defined above, with the intent that such publication be used for committing or facilitating any offense in chapter 20 of this Title or offenses involving forcible entry into premises is guilty of an offense.

The offense under a. or b. of this section is a crime of the fourth degree if the defendant manufactured such instrument or implements or published such plans or instructions; otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be charged with both Burglary and Theft?

Often times a defendant will be charged with both Burglary and Theft, with the Theft being the predicate crime to the Burglary.  These are separate crimes, as Burglary relates mainly to an entry into an unauthorized location, whereas theft is the actual taking of something from that location.

If you have been charged with both Burglary and Theft, you may face up to 20 years in prison, and it is urgent to contact one of our experienced criminal defense experts immediately.  Avery & Avery has been defending our clients against these charges for nearly 40 years and will ensure your best chance of walking free.

Don't I need to "break in" to be charged with Burglary?

This is an old concept under the old common law.  New Jersey has superceded this old law with its current statute N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2.  Under the current NJ burglary statute, the requirement for there to be a breaking is no longer present.  You may be charged even if you walked into an open door without permission and with an intent to commit a crime (other than simple trespass) therein.  

What does it mean to have a privilege to enter a structure?

Privilege to enter a structure generally means you have been granted authority to enter by the owner of the building.  It may also mean a general license to enter, such as with businesses open to the public.  These do not extend to times when the businesses are closed.

What is the difference between 2nd and 3rd degree Burglary in NJ?

The difference is out of concern for the welfare of citizens.  If the defendant either threatened other individuals in the building, or had in their possession a deadly weapon, the charge will be a 2nd degree Burglary.  Second degree burglary

How does the Graves Act (possession of a gun during commission of burglary) apply to me?

This section mainly applies only to 2nd degree Burglary.  In NJ, under the Graves Act, an accused who committed Burglary while in possession of a gun faces mandatory imposition of a minimum 85% of their sentence before being eligible for parole.  This is New Jersey's equivalent of tough on gun violence laws.

If they have caught me and there are no defenses, what can I do?

In some situations the police have caught the defendant dead to rights and there are no defenses.  In situations like these we have often been successful in downgrading the offense to a far lesser penalty and no jail time.  Another approach is to enter our client into a diversionary program such as Pre Trial Intervention (PTI)  or Conditional Discharge (CD).  These programs provide the benefit of no jail time and no criminal record.  We have been successful with combinations of the two as well when dealing with high level offenders.

I have been convicted for Burglary before, but in another state, how does this affect the case?

If the other State's Burglary law is substantially similar to NJ's, a NJ court will likely count it as a prior and be more inclined to impose greater than the minimum penalties.  This could mean the difference between a possible 5 year sentence and a 10 year sentence.  If you have been convicted before for Burglary, no matter the State, it is imperative you contact an Experienced NJ Criminal Defense Attorney.

Where do you practice?

Our NJ Burglary Defense Attorneys regularly defend clients in Bergen, Hudson, Passaic, Morris, Union, Sussex, and Essex counties.  We also regularly are able to have the charges downgraded and heard in the municipal courts as theft charges.

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