Burglary is defined in Penal Code 459 in California. It has several components: Entering any residential or commercial building or room with the intent to commit a felony or a theft once inside. It’s the criminal intent that makes it burglary. Even if the theft goes awry and it’s never completed, you’ve still committed burglary by entering the structure with the intent to commit a crime. To give you a clearer picture of the crime, here is the penal code in its entirety:
“Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel…with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary.” This covers a lot of ground and a lot of different structures so that there’s little left to the imagination when it comes to the definition of burglary. There are two degrees of burglary, and which one you are charged with will determine whether you’re charged with a felony or misdemeanor.
First versus Second Degree Burglary
First-degree-burglary is the more serious of the two charges. It’s always a felony. If you enter an inhabited structure as described above with the intent to commit larceny or any other felony, you’ll be charged with first-degree-burglary. Since there are people who live in the dwelling or commercial building, it makes the offense more serious and gives it more potential for violence.
Second-degree-burglary is a misdemeanor. It involves everything involved in first-degree-burglary except that there are no people who inhabit the building or home. As a result, it’s a less serious offense.
Always remember that residential burglary is viewed as more serious than other forms, so make sure to never, ever face a charge like this without the help of a great lawyer. You’re facing an uphill battle all the way, but a lawyer increases your chances of achieving a more desirable outcome in your case.
First degree burglary
First degree burglary is more serious and carries with it a state prison sentence up to 6 years as well as a $10,000 fine.
Second degree burglary
Penalties here aren’t as severe because they’re a misdemeanor, but they include up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Both of these can be imposed in either degree of burglary. For second degree, it will be time in county jail and not a state prison sentence.
No matter what your situation is, there’s an attorney who’s encountered similar circumstances and knows how to present a defense on your behalf. Since intent is such a crucial element to the crime, your attorney can easily argue that you did not enter the building or residence with the intent to commit a crime. This can change the nature of the case and perhaps reduce the sentence or in some instances get it dismissed altogether. At the very least, this defense strongly suggests that your actions were’t burglary.
Some attorneys can argue that you’ve been mistaken for someone else and the person who burglarized the residence or building simply wasn’t you in the first place. It’s not a common occurrence, but these things have happened in the past. If someone believes they saw you burglarizing someone’s home but you KNOW it wasn’t you, your attorney can present a compelling defense and have you cleared of the charges in the end. That’s the case scenario.
And even if you are guilty, there are attorneys who will work from a “ outcome” scenario. They may try to barter a plea deal that will benefit you and help you stay out of jail. They may fight on your behalf to get you probation. And sometimes they can argue to have the charges reduced to a lesser crime, something that benefits you in the long run, both in keeping you out of jail and in helping you avoid a felony (if it’s first degree burglary).
Call for Help Today
If you’re facing a burglary charge, just know that’s a very serious charge. You need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Burglary, under California law, occurs when a person enters a structure without permission and with the intent to commit a crime. The crime most-often committed in a burglary is larceny (theft), and although often used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between “burglary” and “larceny,” as their treatment differs under the law. Legally defined, burglary is the unpermitted entering of a structure for criminal purposes including theft, while larceny is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property, which can take place even when there is no burglary involved. The penalties available upon conviction in a burglary case also differ, with the punishments for burglary generally being more severe than those for larceny.
In Los Angeles, a charge of burglary may be alleged when a person is accused of entering any of the different types of structures set out in the California Penal Code, including motor vehicles. The entry forming the basis for a burglary charge is sometimes by force which could result in other criminal charges. However, the legal threshold of entry may be reached by other means not including force, including the unpermitted pushing open of an unlocked door or walking through an open door without invitation to enter. The element of entry for purposes of burglary may also be achieved in cases where the accused’s physical body was never inside the structure or vehicle alleged to have been burglarized, but rather they reached into the structure to commit the crime of larceny or other criminal act.
Whether the burglary is charged as a first or second-degree offense will be determined by the structure alleged to have been burglarized. Under California law, the burglary of “inhabited” structures will garner a first-degree charge. To be an inhabited structure does not require that people must have be present when the burglary occurs. A structure is considered to be inhabited when it’s primary use is as a dwelling, even if the usual occupants were not present at the time of burglary. Also included in the “inhabited” category are structures that were unoccupied at the time of the burglary due to an emergency evacuation such as those that occur during fire season in California, or weather-related disasters like the ones that generally occurs in the Central Plains in the spring. Burglaries that do not involve an inhabited structure generally result in second-degree charges.
If the accused goes to trial on a burglary charge, the prosecution must be able to prove that they entered the target structure without permission intending to commit a crime. If burglary is proven and the accused is convicted of a first degree offense in Los Angeles, the penalty could be as much as six years in prison. If convicted on a second-degree burglary charge, which can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, the penalty could range from a year in jail to time in prison.
When a person accused of burglary has an alternative explanation for why they entered the target structure, they will want to mount an immediate and aggressive defense. With the help of legal counsel, they may be able to get mitigating factors of which they are aware into the court record for its consideration in assessing the appropriate penalty, if any. Such mitigating factors may include the malicious actions of a property owner based in animus or upon a misunderstanding, proof of prior permission given to enter the property, or even the unintentional entry into the property while under the influence of medication or other intoxicants.
Everything You Need To Know About Penal Code 459
California penal code 459 is also referred to as breaking and entering and burglary. This is the unlawful and often forceful entry into the property of another with the intention of committing a crime. Under this penal code, burglary entails the entrance of a locked automobile, room or structure with the goal of committing a petty theft or felony once inside. It is important to note, however, that it is possible for California prosecutors to charge a person under penal code 405, even when there is no evidence of forcible entry. It is only necessary to have evidence of a forcible break-in when the defendant is being charged with vehicle burglary.
Entering a vehicle with the intent of stealing the radio or any other valuable item is considered breaking and entering. Entering commercial premises to commit an assault, going into retail outlets to steal clothing, taking bicycles or other items from open garages, or going into a financial institution to knowingly cash fraudulent checks are all forms of burglary. In these instances, there is no need to forcibly enter the premises, however, the individual must enter with the intention of committing a crime, whether this is a felony crime or petty theft.
Getting Legal Help To Fight Charges Under Penal Code 459
There are many ways in which the lawyers at our firm can help you successfully fight charges that have been filed under California penal code 459. Yours may be a case of mistaken identity, in which case, our attorneys can help deliver evidence to support your claims of innocence. We will carefully review the way in which evidence has been collected against you and we’ll also make sure that law enforcement investigations were thorough and performed according to proper protocol. There are often instances in which defendants are present during the actual commission of crimes, but have no planned or unplanned involvement in these acts.
We may even be able to assist you in getting lesser charges by showing that you had no intention of committing a crime until after you were already inside of the premises. This can result in far lesser penalties and if jail time is necessary, it will help you to get a more lenient sentence. In instances in which plea bargains are made, our attorneys can provide guidance and support every step of the way. More importantly, we can make sure that all of the details of these arrangements are put in writing, so that they are certain to be honored by the court.
Burglary, particular in the first degree, is a serious offense. Anyone convicted of a burglary in California may find that their criminal history follows them forever, making it difficult to find employment opportunities among other associated problems. If you have been accused of committing this crime, then you need a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles burglary attorney working for you. Contact our offices even if you haven’t been charged yet. We may be able to provide assistance while law enforcement is conducting an investigation with the intent to charge you with burglary.
California First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary in Los Angeles is a serious criminal offense. Alternatively known as residential burglary, this felony involves entering a structure with the intent of committing a theft or some other felony. California first degree burglary falls under the state’s “three strikes” law, making the stakes for these cases particularly high.
Defining Residential Buildings in California
California’s first degree burglary law covers any structures where people reside or sleep. Accordingly, the structure could be a single-family home or an apartment. It could also be a camper, hospital room or hotel room. An attached garage is also included in the definition. Even common areas like the lobby or shared laundry room of an apartment complex are considered residential buildings for the purposes of this law. It’s important to note that the dwelling does not have to be occupied at the time of the burgling. The primary purpose and usage of the property is what defines the building’s inclusion as a residential building, not whether or not it is occupied upon the occasion of the burglary.
What Does It Mean to “Enter?”
Although California burglaries are sometimes referred to as “breaking and entering,” it is not necessary for any breaking to occur. Simply removing a screen from a window or wandering into a garage through an open door can constitute entering under the California law against burglary. Of course, breaking a window or forcing the lock on a door are also means of entering a property. You cannot be charged with burglary if the structure you enter is where you live or a business you own. Because you have a legal right to be in that building you cannot be charged with burglary for entering it. However, you can be charged with other crimes that you may commit while on your property.
The Role of Intent
One of the most difficult elements that the prosecutor must prove in California burglary cases is that the defendant actually intended to commit a theft or other crime at the time they entered the building. Sometimes defendants confess that they entered a residence with the intent to steal. This makes it easy for the prosecution to build a burglary case against them. In other cases, defendants do not confess but circumstantial evidence may suggest that they entered a property with an intent to steal. For instance, a suspect caught with lock picks and empty bags may be providing excellent circumstantial evidence that the prosecutor can use against him. He doesn’t have to confess because items found in his possession or at the scene are considered sufficient evidence to establish his intent. Don’t make it easy for the prosecution to prove intent in your case. Talk to an experienced Los Angeles burglary attorney before speaking with the police to avoid implicating yourself.
California Second Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary is sometimes called commercial burglary in California. This law covers all structures other than those that are used for residential purposes. In addition to business or industrial properties, automobile theft or stealing from cars is included in the second degree burglary category. Unlike first degree burglary, which is always a felony offense, second degree burglary may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The value of the stolen item or items is often the determining factor in California burglary cases. Items worth less than $400 may result in a misdemeanor charge while items worth more may result in felony charges. Note that entering a business or retail shop during their operating hours and stealing items worth less than $950 will result in shoplifting charges instead of burglary charges because the defendant arguably had the legal right to enter the premises.
Penalties for Burglary in California
Second-degree, misdemeanor burglary charges may lead to up to one year in county jail. A fine of no more than $1,000 may also be levied. It’s possible that someone charged with a second-degree misdemeanor may only be sentenced to probation. While this means that the defendant will not serve time in jail they will have to abide by restrictions to avoid violating probation and being required to go to jail instead.
Second-degree, felony burglary charges may lead to as much as three years in county jail and a fine of not more than $10,000. The consequences are similar for first-degree burglary charges, with a defendant often being sentenced to one year in a county facility or as much as six years in a state prison. Fines of up to $10,000 may also apply.
Experienced Los Angeles Burglary Attorneys
Don’t take chances with your future if you are facing burglary charges in California. If you are convicted, it may affect you for the rest of your life. We provide dedicated, aggressive legal services to people who have been charged with burglary in Los Angeles.