Is Burglary a Felony or Misdemeanor? (PC 459)
The crime of burglary is defined under California Penal Code Section 459 as entering a building, home or other structure with the intent to commit theft or a felony offense once inside.
How you will be charged if you are accused of burglary depends upon the circumstances of your case. Let’s examine when burglary is a felony crime and when it can be charged as a misdemeanor.
The Two Types of Burglary
In order to understand how the law distinguishes felony and misdemeanor burglary, you first need to know that California law separates burglary into two categories: first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary.
The main difference between these two types of burglary is that first-degree burglary (also referred to as residential burglary) requires that you entered into an inhabited residence, such as a home or apartment, with the intent to commit theft or another felony, while second-degree burglary (or commercial burglary) occurs when you enter any other type of structure.
When is Burglary a Felony?
First-degree burglary is a felony offense. If you are convicted of first-degree burglary under PC 459, you face up to six years in state prison and $10,000 in fines. Due to the nature of the offense, you will be required to serve at least 85 percent of your sentence. A conviction will also result in a strike on your criminal record under California’s Three Strikes law.
Second-degree burglary is a wobbler offense, which means it could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. It is up to the discretion of the district attorney to determine how to charge you. Some reasons you may be charged with a felony for commercial burglary include:
- You are currently on probation
- You have a prior criminal history
- You entered the property within 30 days of making a threat against the owner or occupants of the property
There are a number of other factors the prosecution will consider before determining whether to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor for second-degree burglary. If you are accused of burglary, you should hire our experienced burglary defense lawyers so that we can attempt to convince prosecutors to dismiss the case and prevent you from facing serious felony charges.
Felony second-degree burglary carries a sentence of up to three years in county jail and fines of up to $10,000.
Contact the Burglary Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love one has been accused of burglary, you should speak to an experienced burglary defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our skilled burglary defense lawyers have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending clients facing burglary charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich burglary attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.