Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle in South Carolina
Breaking and entering a motor vehicle. So what exactly does the statute cover? Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, South Carolina. And today we’re talking about breaking and entering motor vehicle charges in the state of South Carolina.
To establish breaking and entering a motor vehicle, the state has to show the following: a breaking or attempt to break into a motor vehicle or a compartment with the intent to steal that vehicle or something of value from it. If convicted, it’s a felony and you can face up to five years in prison and up to $1000 fine.
Requires minimal physical force
So let’s talk about what breaking means. Breaking means any act of physical force, however slight where any obstruction to entering that vehicle is forcibly removed. So an example of this would be if a car door is closed but unlocked and you open that car door with intent to steal that vehicle, then that act of opening a door meets the statutory requirement of a breaking even though you used minimal force to get inside that vehicle.
How about if you forcibly removed a component of that vehicle? Say the driveshaft underneath the vehicle. In our state the courts have said that doesn’t constitute a breaking under this statute because that component, the driveshaft itself, doesn’t block or control the component where you enter that vehicle and so it doesn’t meet the element of breaking under this statute. Now that still constitutes a crime and it’s called tampering with a vehicle which is a misdemeanor, but it doesn’t meet the elements for breaking and entering a motor vehicle in this state.
What about a stolen vehicle
What about if you’re driving a vehicle that was broken into and stolen? Without any other facts apart from that, such as no witnesses, no video evidence or you don’t give a confession to breaking and stealing that vehicle? That in and of itself shouldn’t be charged as breaking and entering a motor vehicle. Now again, that’s a crime such as possession of a stolen motor vehicle, but it doesn’t meet the elements for breaking and entering a motor vehicle.
Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Attorney
So if you’ve been charged with breaking and entering a motor vehicle, and like to discuss your options, please give me a call at (843) 530-7813. I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.