California Burglary Prosecution

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Are You Facing Burglary Charges in California?

If you are confronted with accusations of burglary in Southern California, it is imperative that you understand what the crime entails. To convict you of burglary, the prosecutor bears a significant evidentiary burden. The California burglary attorneys at Wallin & Klarich know all of the elements that the prosecutor must prove in order to convict you of burglary. Please contact our burglary defense attorneys today to discuss the merits of your case.

How You Can Be Found Guilty of Burglary Under California Penal Code 459-460

California Penal Code 459 states that you may be found guilty of burglary if you “entered” an enclosure, such as a building or vehicle, with the intent to commit a theft or other felony.

If you entered a building, home, or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or any other felony, you may be found guilty of burglary.
Did you enter a house, building, or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony?

In fact, California Penal Code 459 contains a complete list of enclosures that may give rise to a burglary conviction. The enclosures listed under California Penal Code 459 are provided below:

  • House;
  • Room;
  • Apartment;
  • Tenement;
  • Shop;
  • Warehouse;
  • Store;
  • Mill;
  • Barn;
  • Stable;
  • Outhouse or other building;
  • Tent;
  • Vessel;
  • Floating home;
  • Railroad car;
  • Locked or sealed cargo container;
  • Trailer coach;
  • Vehicle;
  • Inhabited camper;
  • Aircraft; OR
  • Mine or any underground portion thereof.

California Penal Code 460 divides burglary into two separate categories. First degree burglary, also known as “residential burglary,” is always charged as a felony. Second degree burglary, also known as “commercial burglary,” is known as a “wobbler” offense. This means that second degree burglary may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of your case. You can speak to one of our California burglary attorneys today to receive immediate help on your case.

For example: You entered a department store with an empty shopping bag and placed several different items totaling $2,500 in the bag. You then proceeded to leave the store without paying. The facts in this example would likely mean that you would be committed for felony commercial burglary.

To convict you of first degree burglary under California Penal Code 460, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements:

  1. You entered an inhabited home or a room inside of an inhabited home; AND
  2. When you entered an inhabited home or a room inside of an inhabited home, you intended to commit theft or another felony.

Home

A “home” includes any structure, office, or garage that is attached to the home and functionally connected with it.

For example: You may be convicted of burglary under PC 460 if you entered a neighbor’s garage with the intent to steal his lawn mower.

Inhabited

If you entered an inhabited area (regardless of whether a person is inside during the act), you will be found guilty of first degree burglary in California.
Did you enter an inhabited area?

A home is considered “inhabited” if a person uses it as a dwelling, whether or not that person was inside the home at the time of your alleged entry.

For example: You entered a neighbor’s home while the residents were away on vacation.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the burglary was first- degree burglary. If the prosecutor cannot meet this burden, you cannot be found guilty of first- degree burglary.

To convict you of second degree burglary under California Penal Code 459, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements:

  1. You entered an enclosure, such as a building, room, vehicle, vessel, cargo or container; AND
  2. When you entered an enclosure, such as a building, room, vehicle, vessel, cargo, or container, you intended to commit a theft or another felony.

Committing a Burglary in California

You have “committed” a burglary if you entered an enclosure with the intent to commit a theft or another felony. You do not need to have actually completed a theft or another felony as long as you entered with the intent to do so.

For example: You decided to burglarize an electronics store in your neighborhood. You entered the store with the intention of stealing a plasma television. However, upon entering the store, you had a change of heart and decided to exit the premises without stealing any items or committing another felony. You may still be convicted of second-degree burglary under PC 459 since you entered the store with the intent to complete a theft or another felony.

Intent to Commit a Burglary in California

The prosecutor carries the significant evidentiary burden of proving that you “intended” to complete a theft or another felony prior to entering the specified enclosure. The prosecutor may use the following circumstantial evidence to prove that you intended to commit a burglary:

  • You entered the enclosure at nighttime after regular business hours;
  • You were wearing clothing likely associated with a burglary, such as a ski mask or an all-black sweater;
  • You were in possession of burglary tools such as a crowbar, wrench, and/or pliers; OR
  • You entered the store with empty bags, which could indicate that you intended to place store items within the bags.

Your statements

In attempting to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor will rely heavily on any statements that you made to store personnel or police at the time of your arrest. Since burglary is a specific intent crime, the prosecutor must prove your “mental state” at the time of your entry into the residence (first degree burglary) or store (second degree burglary). Any statement that you made indicating your intent to enter the store and commit a theft is powerful evidence in the hands of the prosecutor that can lead to you being convicted.

Entering

You “entered” an enclosure such as a building, room, vehicle, vessel, cargo, or container if some part of your body or some object in your control penetrated the area inside of the outer boundary.

For example: You cracked open the front doors of an electronics store and put one foot inside the store building.

Speak to the California Burglary Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you or a loved one has been accused of burglary in Southern California, it is essential that you contact an experienced burglary lawyer. Our law firm approaches every case with the belief that the person we are defending could easily be one of our own family members. We have seen firsthand how stressful burglary charges can be for our clients and their loved ones. We are committed to being available to our clients at all times — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

Our offices are located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance, Sherman Oaks, and Ventura.

Call us today at 1(877) 4-NO-JAIL or 1(877) 466-5245.

We will get through this together.

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