What Should I Do if I’m Charged With Burglary in New Jersey?

person arrested for felony charge

New Jersey doesn’t consider burglary a violent crime like it does robbery, because burglary is understood to be force used to acquire an object and not force used against a person. Even so, burglary charges can carry consequences to the tune of $15,000 in fines and up to ten years in prison for the worst offenses. Do you find yourself struggling to shoulder a burglary charge? Contact a Bergen County criminal defense lawyer right away. We’ll help you understand your options. We are experienced defense lawyers and we won’t rest until we get you the best result possible.

What Is Burglary Exactly? How Does New Jersey Law Define It?

The Garden State defines burglary in the New Jersey Burglary Controlling Statute N.J.S. 2C:18-2. The elements of a burglary charge that the prosecution must prove are:

  • With an intent to commit a crime
  • You entered a structure that was either off-limits entirely, or you entered an off-limits area of a public space
  • You remain there despite knowing you don’t have permission
  • OR you trespass on utility company property despite there being visible, noticeable signs that others shouldn’t enter, like signs or fencing.

Typically, New Jersey courts consider burglary a third-degree offense, except where the defendant allegedly used a deadly weapon or injured someone, in which case burglary is bumped up to a second-degree offense with correspondingly heftier punishment.

Useful Burglary Defenses Your Lawyer May Employ

This post is going to address some defenses used by actual lawyers in a court of law. Keep reading to learn what argument your lawyer may present on your behalf.


One defense that might occur to you is simply Perhaps the most obvious defense is maintaining that you simply didn’t do what you were accused of.

Burglary charges carry a standard of proof called “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the court has a plausible doubt about whether you did the crime or doesn’t see the prosecution’s interpretation as reasonable, they may find you innocent.

Insufficient Evidence

If your case allows it, your defense lawyer may argue that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence for charges brought against you. Because the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” arguing insufficient evidence can go a long way to undermine the prosecution’s case.

It may also rebut the doubt mentioned above. The jury may wonder why you were accused if you didn’t do it, but if your lawyer can suggest that the prosecution didn’t prepare their case well enough, that may help cast a reasonable doubt in the court’s mind about your guilt.

Police Misconduct

Similar to arguing insufficient evidence, arguing police misconduct is all about sowing doubt in the minds of the court about the prosecution’s thoroughness. If the police were careless or malicious in how they handled the evidence, for instance, that may help convince the court that the case against you is unfair or flimsy.=

Mistaken Identity

Defense lawyers also need to develop the skill of careful evidence-gathering. One useful avenue may be uncovered after your lawyer collects alibis, reviews surveillance footage, or compares witness statements. In so doing, your lawyer may find evidence that you were mistakenly identified as the guilty party and hence wrongfully charged, a powerful argument to the court.

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