Defending Against Burglary Charges in the State of California

If you have been charged with burglary in the state of California, it is important that you get in touch with a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney. If you are convicted, you will face jail time, fines, reputational damage, and other consequences. To convict you, the state’s prosecutor will have to prove each element of the crime of burglary beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled attorney will explore every avenue with regard to reasonable doubt and mount the strongest possible defense on your behalf. The purpose of this article is to explain the elements of the crime of burglary and the nature of reasonable doubt.

Penal Code 459 PC Defines Burglary in the State of California

Burglary is one of the oldest crimes in the world. In the U.S., each state has a different statute defining the crime. In California, Penal Code 459 PC is the law that provides the state’s definition of burglary. It defines burglary as “entering a room, structure, or locked vehicle with the intent to commit a felony therein.” Under this definition the crime of burglary has two sides:

  • Entering
  • Possessing an intent to commit a felony

With regard to the entering aspect of the crime, misconceptions abound. There is an incorrect assumption that one must break a window or pick a lock or use some other illicit means to satisfy the element of entering. Unless the space in question is a locked vehicle, entrance need not be forced via physical force or lock-picking.

With regard to the intent aspect of burglary, the intention must be to commit a felony after entering the room, structure, or vehicle. As you might imagine, an intent to steal commonly satisfies this requirement. Objects of theft frequently include jewelry, electronics, cars, bicycles, and other valuable goods. Lastly, the intent requirement of burglary makes it a “specific intent” crime. Accidentally entering a room, structure, or vehicle will not suffice. You must enter for a felonious purpose such as stealing. If there is a valid basis, your dedicated California criminal defense attorney will work to explore areas of reasonable doubt with regard to specific intent.

A Burglary Conviction is Subject to Serious Penalties in California

In terms of penalties for a burglary conviction in the state of California, it depends on whether the burglary was residential or commercial. The term residential covers houses, apartments, hotels, motels, and other structures in which people live. Burglary of any one of these structures is considered residential and is classified as “first degree burglary.” First degree burglary is punishable by up to a six-year term in California state prison. If the burglary occurs in a non-residential space such as a business, it is classified as “second degree burglary.” Felony second degree burglary is punishable by up to three years in California state prison.

If you have charged with burglary in the state of California, reach out to an experienced California criminal defense attorney immediately.