California Penal Code 459 defines burglary as breaking and entering a structure with the intent to steal or commit a felony. A structure could include a residence, a business, a cargo container, or even a tent or a storage unit.
That is the basic definition of burglary in California, but what makes a burglary a first-degree burglary, and what makes it a second-degree burglary?
The answer has to do with what kind of structure you entered in order to commit the crime. Burglary of a residence is considered first degree burglary. Burglary of a non-residential structure such as a business or storage facility is considered second degree burglary.
Punishment for First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary is considered a strike under California Penal Code Section 1192.5, and carries a much harsher sentence than second degree burglary.
A conviction of first-degree burglary is punishable by two, four or six years in prison. Because first-degree burglary counts as a strike on your criminal record, you will be required to serve 85 percent of your sentence if you are convicted of first degree burglary.
If you have a prior strike, your sentence will be doubled and you must serve at least 80 percent of the double time. If this is your third strike, you could be sentenced to prison for 25 years to life.
Punishment for Second Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary is a wobbler, which means that prosecutors can charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor. How you are charged depends on various factors.
Felony second degree burglary is punishable by up to three years in county jail. Misdemeanor second degree burglary could be punished by up to 364 days in county jail.
Some factors which can influence whether you’re charged with a felony or a misdemeanor are:
- Whether you have any prior convictions;
- What crime was committed after you entered the structure; and
- Whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to stand a good chance of convicting you.
Another factor that affects the outcome of your case is whether you have a competent and dedicated attorney with experience defending clients facing burglary charges. Burglary is a serious crime, and the consequences of a burglary conviction can affect you for the rest of your life.
Defenses to Burglary
In order to convict you of burglary, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to commit a crime when you entered the structure. This is true regardless if you are facing first or second degree burglary charges.
There are numerous defenses to burglary. Some of these are:
- You didn’t know the people you were with were going to commit a crime.
- You were intoxicated and lacked the capacity to form intent.
- You were invited into the structure by the resident or owner.
- The police who arrested you violated one or more of your constitutional rights.
Call the Burglary Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved is facing burglary charges, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand the charges against you. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending our clients charged with burglary and other serious crimes for over 35 years. Our criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience to provide you with the best legal defense.
We have offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, our skilled burglary attorneys can help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.