What is Burglary? | PC 459Burglary is defined as the unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime. Under California Penal Code Section 459, there doesn’t have to be a theft involved to be charged with burglary. The crime of burglary is when someone enters a building, home, structure, room, container, or vehicle with the intent to commit larceny or any felony.
What Must Be Proven | First Degree BurglaryA burglary charge can be a First Degree charge or a Second Degree charge. For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 459 of the First Degree, the prosecution must prove each of the following:
- You entered a home or a room within a home
- The Burglary happens in an inhabited dwelling house or vessel, or the inhabited portion of any other building (PC 460(a))
- When you entered the home or room, you intended to commit a felony or theft inside.
What Must Be Proven | Second Degree BurglaryAll other burglaries that do not fit within the elements of First Degree burglary are considered burglary in the second degree. (PC 460(b)). For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 459 of the Second Degree, the prosecution must prove each of the following:
- You entered an uninhabited shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, floating home, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, trailer coach, inhabited camper, locked-door vehicle, aircraft, or mine or any underground portion
- When you entered the space, you intended to commit a felony or theft inside.
Burglary Penalties and Sentencing | What You’re FacingThe penalties for burglary under PC 459 can be significant depending upon the facts of the case. The severity of the sentencing will be determined by whether the prosecutor charges you with First Degree burglary or Second Degree burglary. First Degree burglary is always charged as a felony. However, Second Degree burglary is a “wobbler” offense and can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending upon the facts of your case.
First Degree Felony BurglaryFirst Degree burglary is always charged as a felony when the victim was inside the residence at the time of the incident. If convicted of First Degree burglary the punishment is as follows:
- Imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years
- The judge also has the ability to sentence you to probation. However, if you are given a probationary sentence you must serve a minimum sentence of ninety (90) days in custody
Second Degree Felony BurglaryThe punishment if convicted of Second Degree Felony Burglary is
- Imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years
Second Degree Misdemeanor BurglaryThe punishment if convicted of Second Degree Misdemeanor burglary is::
- Up to one year in a County Jail
Possession of Burglary Tools | PC 466One related offense that is often charged alongside a burglary charge, is a violation of PC 466, or possession of burglary tools. PC 466 makes it a misdemeanor to possess “burglary tools” with the intent to break or enter into any structure. Burglary tools under this law can include many items, such as the following examples:
- Vise grip pliers
- Water-pump pliers
- Slide Hammer
- Slim jim
- Tension bar
- Lock pick gun
- Tubular lock pick
- Bump key
- Floor-safe door puller
- Master key.
PC 466 Penalties and Sentencing | What You’re FacingA violation of PC 466 is a misdemeanor. If convicted of this crime it is punishable by:
- Imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months
- A maximum fine of $1,000.
Possible Defenses to a Burglary Charge in CaliforniaThere are many valid defenses to a burglary charge. The best defense, if you are facing a burglary crime, is to hire an aggressive team of burglary defense attorneys that have handled hundreds of burglary cases and know what it takes to obtain a successful outcome in your case. Your burglary defense team will develop a strategy and plan and argue the best defenses based upon the facts of your case. Here are some defenses that we have successfully used in the representation of our clients who were facing burglary charges:
Mistaken IdentityIf the description of the alleged perpetrator can fit any number of people, your burglary defense attorney may be able to argue that this is a simple case of mistaken identity. This is a strong defense if you have a witness that can place you somewhere else at the time of the alleged act.
Improper QuestioningIf the arresting officer failed to read you your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest, anything you said after your arrest might be inadmissible in court. Furthermore, any evidence that was discovered as a result of your answers to improper questions may be thrown out as well.
You Had PermissionYou believed that you had permission to enter the area in question or remove the items therein. This defense can be used if there’s evidence that the owner of the property gave you permission, either verbally or in writing.
You Have an AlibiAn alibi is often the best defense in cases where the defendant was not arrested at the scene of the crime. If the lawyer can present witnesses or other evidence that shows that you were somewhere other than at the scene of the crime when the crime was committed, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
Illegal Search and SeizureThe police must have probable cause or obtain a search warrant to search your home or other areas you own. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, we are protected from illegal searches and seizures. Any evidence that was obtained through an illegal search will be inadmissible in court and can’t be used as evidence against you.
Lack of IntentAn element that a prosecutor must prove is that you had the intent to commit theft or another felony when you entered a location. If you did not have the intent to commit a crime when you entered the premises, you could be found not guilty of this offense. Even if you decided to commit a felony or theft crime after you entered the premises you cannot legally be found guilty of burglary. It is your intent at the time you enter the home or building that is key to establishing the required intent element in a burglary prosecution.
Statute of LimitationsThe statute of limitations is the “time limit” the police and prosecutors have to file charges against you with the court. If charges aren’t filed within that period of time, then your experienced burglary defense lawyer can file a motion to have the charges against you dismissed. The general rule is that the statute of limitations for a felony burglary is three years, and the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor burglary is one year. However, there are many exceptions and factors that come into play when determining the correct statute of limitations. This is why it’s important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable and successful burglary defense attorney to see what defenses are available in your specific situation.
24/7 Communication With Your Attorney | The Wallin & Klarich WayNot only do you get the benefit of our 40+ years of experience in successfully defending against burglary charges, but you get a 24/7 communication policy that we have with our clients. Our goal is to make sure you know exactly what’s going on at all stages of your case. We want our clients to be active participants in the defense of their burglary cases.
History of Success | Wallin & Klarich Track Record of Winning CasesWe have an excellent reputation in Orange County and throughout Southern California as strong advocates for our clients’ rights. The judges and prosecutors throughout the region know that we fight for our client’s rights and will not leave any stone unturned in defending our clients. For 40+ years we have developed this reputation by taking on and winning tough cases.
“I didn’t know what to do when I was accused of burglary and grand theft charges. I was certain that I was facing jail time. I put my faith in Wallin and Klarich due to their years of experience helping people facing similar charges. Thanks to my attorney’s experience and relationship with th...
“Thank you for your excellent work getting my case dismissed. I really appreciate the time and effort you spent to help me understand the criminal justice process and to explain the possible outcomes. You helped me organize my documents and asked many questions to better understand my case. You w...
“I was arrested with four other individuals. Thanks to the services of Wallin & Klarich I received no jail time and a reduction in the charges I faced. The other individuals all were represented by other attorneys and they all received jail time and had to plea to burglary charges. I am extrem...