Burglary

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Burglary Charges – What To Know If You're Charged

Burglary charges are devastating to a person's reputation and their future, at least if they're convicted of the crime. If you've been charged with burglary, read on to learn everything you need to know about your upcoming case and how a California criminal defense attorney can help.

What are Burglary Charges?

In California law, the exact requirements for a burglary conviction are clearly laid out in Penal Code 459. The prosecution must prove that:

  • The defendant entered a building or a room within a building, or a locked vehicle or other structure
  • The defendant entered that building, room, vehicle, or structure with the intent to commit theft or another felony

Additional aspects must be proven depending on the nature of the charge, which may impact final penalties should you be convicted.

  • The value of the property must be more than $950 OR
  • The structure the defendant entered was a non-commercial establishment OR
  • The structure the defendant entered was a commercial establishment, but the defendant entered during non-business hours

In essence, a burglary occurs when someone enters a room or vehicle they weren't supposed to during non-business or non-reasonable hours, without permission, and either intended to or did commit theft or some other felony.

Penalties for Burglary

The penalties for burglary depend on whether the alleged crime is considered first-degree or second-degree.

First-degree burglaries are always felonies and are usually applied to residential burglaries. Punishments can include:

  • Felony probation
  • Up to six years in California state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

First-degree burglaries also count as a strike under California's “Three Strikes” laws.

Meanwhile, second-degree burglaries carry lighter penalties and are most often applied in cases of commercial theft. Penalties can include:

  • Felony probation
  • Up to three years in county jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Misdemeanor burglaries are sometimes charged for minor incidents. Such penalties can include:

  • Misdemeanor probation
  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Up to $1000 in fines

Defenses for Burglary Charges

Burglary charges can be fought in multiple ways depending on the strategy decided upon by your California criminal defense attorney.

No Intent to Commit a Crime Inside

If no intent to commit thievery or some other felony can be proven, then you cannot be convicted of this charge. Circumstantial evidence, such as the timing of the entry to the building or vehicle, and other evidence may be taken into account to prove a lack of intent to steal.

Claim of Right/Mistake of Fact

If you believed that an item or something else belonged to you, and had reasonable cause to assume so, you may not be convicted of this crime since you didn't intend to steal. In this case, you would have intended to return a piece of property you already owned.

Police Misconduct

The police are sometimes too eager to solve a case, which can compel corrupt behavior. If the police coerce a confession, fabricate evidence or violate your Fourth Amendment rights, these can all be cause to have the case thrown out of court.

Contact a California Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Time is always of the essence with any criminal case, and especially burglary cases due to the need to collect and analyze circumstantial evidence. If you've been charged with burglary, contact the law offices of Peter James Chambers right away so we can get started on your case with a free consultation.

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“One who sits in judgment of another should feel as though the sword is pointed at their own heart.”

— THE TALMUD —

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