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North Carolina Criminal Law 14-54.1: Felonious Breaking or Entering - Place of Religious Worship

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

The crime of Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-54.1 is a felony criminal offense characterized by a defendant, breaking or entering into a place of religious worship, without the consent of the owner(s), with the intention of committing a felony offense.

To prove a defendant committed the crime of Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship, the prosecutor must establish the following prima facie elements of the crime Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:

  • There was a breaking by the defendant or entry by the defendant
  • The place the defendant entered/broke into was, in fact, a building used as a place for religious worship
  • That the defendant was not given consent by the owner/tenant
  • That the defendant intended to commit a felony at the time the breaking/entering occurred (mens rea)

“Breaking” does not always mean actual breaking (i.e. physically removing barriers like breaking a window).

Breaking can also be constructive, meaning it is still considered a breaking if the defendant entered a building by threat, force, trick, or fraudulent representation that caused another person to allow the defendant to enter.

“Entry” simply means that the defendant entered the building.

The “Building” that is entered must be clearly identifiable and regularly used as a place of religious worship such as a church, chapel, temple, synagogue, longhouse, mosque, etc.

2. Examples of Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship

The defendant enters a church from an unlocked back door in order to steal a computer. The Defendant may be charged with Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship, a Class G Felony Offense.

The defendant works for a catering company. While catering an event at a chapel, the defendant notices a drawer filled with valuables. After the event is over and everyone leaves, the defendant climbs through a window and steals the contents of the drawer. The Defendant may be charged with Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship.

The defendant attends a service at a local church for the holidays. The defendant notices that the church uses very expensive equipment for the music portion of the service. After the church closes, the defendant breaks into the church and steals some instruments, microphones, and a mixing board.

3. Related Offenses

Other related crimes and offenses may include:

  1. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-51: Burglary
  2. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-54: Felonious Breaking or Entering
  3. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-56: Breaking or Entering Into a Motor Vehicle
  4. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-72(A): Felonious Larceny - Goods Worth More Than $1,000
  5. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-72(b)(4): Felony Larceny of a Firearm
  6. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-72.7: Chop Shop Activity
  7. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-90: Embezzlement of Property by Virtue of Office or Employment
  8. North Carolina General Statute Link: NCGS 14-54.1
4. Defenses to Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship

A Defendant can challenge the crime of Felonious Breaking or Entering into a place of Religious Worship with these common defenses:

  1. Consent (permission) by the property owner for the entry
  2. Lawful entry
  3. Lack of intent to commit a felony at the time of entry
  4. Mistake of fact
5. Penalties

Under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-54.1: Felonious Breaking or Entering into a place of Religious Worship is a Class G Felony, allowing for a maximum period of incarceration of up to 31 months.

The Felony Punishment Chart ( punishment grid) allows for Active, Intermediate, and Suspended punishments given the nature of the circumstances, fact-pattern, and Prior Record Level of the defendant.

Terms and conditions punishment may include:

  • Enrollment into and completion of a cognitive behavioral program
  • Drug/Alcohol Assessment and Treatment
  • Costs of Court
  • Restitution to the victim
  • Civil judgment for damages, as deemed appropriate by the Court
  • Fines
  • Community service and Community Service Fees
  • Supervised and unsupervised probation
6. Criminal Defense for Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship

If you have been charged or arrested for Felonious Breaking or Entering into a Place of Religious Worship, contact a Charlotte criminal defense attorney without delay.

Felony charges and crimes of dishonesty and theft (crimes of moral turpitude) can carry consequences to reputation in the community and can have a long-lasting impact on your employment and ability to provide for yourself.

Our criminal lawyers are devloted to providing sound legal advice, helping guide you through the process. CALL NOW to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION: 704-342-4357

The Powers Law Firm PA provides free, confidential consultations for criminal charges. It does not matter if your inquiry involves a felony or misdemeanor charge.

Our criminal lawyers provide legal representation and help to people in Charlotte-Mecklenburg as well as Gaston County, Iredell County, Lincoln County, Catawba County, Union County, Rowan County, and Stanly County, North Carolina.

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