Can You Be Charged With Burglary When You Didn’t Commit the Act of Burglary?
You know your neighbors are going to be gone on vacation. You also know that they have valuables worth stealing. But instead of going in to burglarize the residence, you call an associate and give them the information, and they burglarize the residence. Your friend is later arrested and names you as the person who gave up the information used to plan the burglary. Can you also be charged with first degree burglary?
California Penal Code Section 459 defines burglary as breaking and entering a structure with the intent to steal or commit a felony. But what if you don’t actually enter the structure? Can you still be charged with burglary for helping to plan the crime? What about for driving the getaway car or acting as the lookout? In California, the answer is yes.
California Penal Code Section 31 states that if you help commit a crime in any way, you could be charged as a principal. To be charged as a principal means that you’ll be charged with the crime you helped somebody else commit and you will face the same punishment as if you committed the crime.
According to California law, giving information to others which helps them commit burglary is punished like burglarizing the property yourself.
Some acts that could lead to burglary charges in California include:
- Helping to plan, instigating, or encouraging the crime
- Driving the getaway car
- Being the lookout
- Hiding the stolen goods
In order to convict you of a crime as an accessory, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Had knowledge of the perpetrator’s intent to commit a crime
- Prior to, during, or after the crime, you intended to encourage or help the perpetrator, and
- Your conduct or encouragement did help the perpetrator commit the crime.
Punishment for First Degree Burglary
If you help somebody burglarize a residence you could be charged with first degree burglary (Penal Code 459). First degree burglary is a strike under California Penal Code section 1192.5. It is punishable by two, four, or six years in prison. Because it’s a strike, you must serve 85% of your sentence, even with good behavior. If you have a prior strike, your sentence is doubled and you must serve at least 80% of the double time. With three strikes you can be sentenced to prison for 25 years to life.
Punishment for Second Degree Burglary
Burglarizing any structure besides a residence is considered second degree burglary. Second degree burglary is a wobbler offense. The prosecutor can choose to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor. Felony second degree burglary is punishable by up to three years in county jail while misdemeanor second degree burglary could be punished by up to one year in county jail.
Call the Burglary Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one have been charged with a burglary you didn’t actually commit, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand the charges against you and plan a defense strategy. At Wallin & Klarich our dedicated attorneys have been successfully helping people charged with burglary for over 40 years. You don’t have to face this trouble alone.
We have offices in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks. No matter where you live in Southern California, an experienced and competent Wallin & Klarich attorney is nearby.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.