San Diego Burglary Defense Attorneys
California law defines Burglary under Penal Code § 459 as entering a structure (eg room, store, apartment, etc) with the intent to commit theft (petty theft included) or any felony (eg battery, assault, etc). It’s the act of “breaking” a barrier with the intention of committing a crime that creates criminal liability.
California Penal Code Sections 459, 460 and 461 describe burglary, its degrees and applicable punishments. Burglary can be a misdemeanor but is more often charged as a felony with a possibility of 84 months in California State Prison for the most egregious offenses.
What Must the Government Prove?
Fundamentally, in order to be found guilty of burglary, the district attorney must prove the following:
- the defendant entered;
- a building, apartment, vehicle, vessel, cargo container or mobile home;
- with the intent to commit petty theft, grand theft, or any other felony
The final element, “intent to commit …” makes burglary a specific intent crime and is most often proved by circumstantial evidence that the defendant intended to commit another act besides just entering the structure. Possessing tools like pliers, security device keys, or screwdrivers will be used to circumstantially prove the intent to commit burglary and will likely be an added charge of Misdemeanor Possession of Burglarious Tools under Penal Code § 466.
Additionally, many individuals are charged with burglary even without intending to steal anything because the last element opens the intent up to “any other felony.”
Degrees of Burglary
California law distinguishes two degrees of burglary: first degree and second degree. The most serious offense, first degree, is a felony. Second degree burglary is a “wobbler” and can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor offense depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal record.
1st Degree Burglary (aka Residential Burglary)
Facts that give rise to burglary will be charged as “First Degree Burglary” (aka “residential burglary”) if the offense was committed on an “inhabited dwelling house”. The term “inhabited dwelling house” has a very specific meaning for purposes of burglary. An “inhabited dwelling house” is any structure where people ordinarily live and is used for dwelling purposes.
2nd Degree Burglary (aka Commercial Burglary)
Any burglary charge that is not “First Degree Burglary” is Second Degree. Second Degree Burglary is also referred to as “commercial burglary” and involves entering commercial establishments (eg Wal-Mart, Nordstroms, etc).
Penalties For a Burglary Conviction
Under California Penal Code Section 461, First Degree Burglary is punishable by 24 to 72 months and second degree burglary is punishable as a misdemeanor up to one-year in county jail.
Additionally, a conviction of First Degree Burglary is a strike on your criminal record.
Our Attorney Advantage
A Burglary Charge can have serious consequences. Hiring the right attorney may be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. Take back the Upper Hand. Our defense attorneys are the best in the business:
- A Skilled and Experienced Defense Team – We are the right team to defend a criminal charge. We have successfully handled thousands of criminal cases and have satisfied clients all over California. We know the law, procedure and practicalities of criminal litigation that can give you the upper hand in court.
- Well Known and Respected – We appear in the courts of San Diego every day of the week. We are known by judges, prosecutors and our colleagues. Our attorneys have a reputation for competent and effective representation in the area of criminal law. We strive to achieve excellence on every case and have established a reputation for getting great results.
- State of The Art Legal Practice – We are a 100% Paperless law firm. All of our clients are given 24/7 access to everything in their case file. Attorney notes, evidence, witness statements and motions are all scanned and stored digitally in an easy to navigate cloud based system. Its encrypted to standards of the department of defense. Rest assured that your file is safe, sound and available to you whenever you need it.
If you have been charged with Burglary under PC 459/460(a) or PC 459/460(b), we offer a 100% free Consultation by calling 619-649-2424 or emailing us at email@example.com. Talk to one of our experienced Burglary Defense Attorneys today and take back the upper hand.
People v. Rodriguez (App.2 Dist. 2004) 18 Cal.Rptr.3d 550, 122 Cal.App.4th 121
California Penal Code Section 460(b): “[a]ll other kinds of burglary are of the second degree.
California Penal Code Section 461 – Punishment of California Burglary