Auto burglary, which is also known as California penal code 459 PC, is defined as entering any locked vehicle, or it’s trunk, with the intent to steal the car, steal any property within the car, or commit any other felony by using the car. Forced entry into the vehicle is also covered under this penal code. Auto burglary is considered a form of second-degree burglary and is known as a ‘wobbler offense.’ This means that the offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Which type of charge depends on the circumstances of the case and how the prosecutor chooses to file the charges.
If charged with a misdemeanor, offenders can expect the maximum incarceration in the county jail for up to one year. If accused of auto burglary as a felony, you could face a prison sentence of 16 months to a maximum of 3 years.
What Is Considered A Vehicle?
The definition of the word ‘vehicle’ is any object that is motorized and able to propel, move or legally be used on a highway by a person. These include automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, electric cars and other motorized vehicles. Other devices that are powered by a person such as bicycles, skateboards, and other non-motorized devices are not considered vehicles under California vehicle code 670.
Was The Vehicle Locked?
A vehicle must be locked, and evidence of any forced entry into the vehicle must be present for the act to be considered auto burglary.
Grand Larceny And Petty Larceny
Grand larceny, also known as grand theft, is when money, property or value taken from the vehicle exceeds the amount of $950, and if the vehicle itself is stolen. Breaking into a vehicle with the intent to steal it will add the charge of grand larceny along with an auto burglary charge.
Petty larceny, also known as petty theft, is when money or property taken does not exceed the amount of $950. An example would be breaking into a vehicle with the intent to steal a wallet or a purse that has $950 or less inside of it. A petty larceny charge will be added to the auto burglary charge in this circumstance, as well.
Being faced with auto burglary is a stressful situation, and it is worth your while to find an experienced theft crimes attorney to fight these charges. A defense attorney can help bring certain legal arguments that can potentially have the charges reduced or even dismissed. Fortunately, many circumstances can be raised by your defense attorney on your behalf. These include:
• The car was not locked-If the doors were unlocked it is not considered auto burglary.
• You had permission to enter the vehicle- If the owner of the vehicle gave you consent to enter the vehicle, it is not considered auto burglary.
• No intent- The prosecution must be able to prove that you had the intent to commit any theft or felonies in the case.
• Evidence- If the evidence against you is insufficient or there are inconsistencies.
• False Identification- In many cases there is the possibility that you were falsely identified by a person, in which you should not be convicted of auto burglary.
Anytime you are accused of a crime, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. There are several types of theft crimes in California, and each one has its defenses. Your attorney can advise you of your rights, defenses and guide you through the complicated legal system.
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