In the state of California, any person who enters a residential or commercial building with the intention of committing a felony or theft once inside may be found guilty of burglary, even if the intended felony or theft is never completed. Burglary is a serious criminal offense, and if you find yourself facing charges of misdemeanor or felony burglary in Los Angeles, you could end up serving time in prison and paying substantial fines, among other legal consequences. Fortunately, there are a number of legal defenses that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can present on your behalf to help you fight burglary charges and avoid the considerable penalties associated with the crime. If you have been charged with – or are being investigated for – burglary in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to hire qualified legal representation. With our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles on your side, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and develop a strong defense in your burglary case.
Affordable Burglary Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The legal consequences associated with a burglary conviction in Los Angeles are severe, and because of this, it is imperative that you enlist the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with, or are being investigated for, burglary in violation of California Penal Code § 459 PC. With a knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can significantly improve your chances of the charges against you being reduced to a lesser offense, or possibly even dismissed altogether.
Keep in mind that no matter what you are told, law enforcement is not on your side. You can be certain that the officers tasked with investigating your burglary case will help the prosecution collect evidence against you and build a strong case for the state, and it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for you in court. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles will do whatever it takes to defend your rights, including locating and interviewing witnesses, obtaining surveillance tapes, canvassing neighborhoods, doing background checks on prosecution witnesses, and collecting evidence corroborating your account of the alleged burglary. Contact us today for a free initial burglary defense consultation.
Under California Penal Code § 459 PC, the term “burglary” applies to the act of entering any residential or commercial building, room within a building, locked vehicle or structure with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony. According to the law, a residential or commercial building includes any house, apartment, room, shop, warehouse, store, barn, vehicle, tent or any other building or vessel that is inhabited and designed for habitation. In the state of California, a burglary is identified as either first-degree or second-degree. Any burglary of a residence is considered burglary in the first degree, while burglary of any other type of building, including shops and businesses, is considered burglary in the second degree. Some other common criminal offenses related to burglary include Penal Code § 466 PC possession of burglary tools, Penal Code § 470 PC forgery, Penal Code § 211 PC robbery, and Penal Code § 602 PC trespassing.
Conviction for Burglary Penal Code § 459 PC
In the state of California, burglary is considered a “specific intent crime,” which means that, in order to convict on burglary charges in Los Angeles, the prosecution must prove that the defendant entered the building where the burglary occurred and had the intent to commit the crime of burglary or some other felony at the time he or she entered the building, which is known as specific intent. Even if you enter a residential or commercial building intending to commit a felony or theft, to be convicted of burglary in Los Angeles, one or more of the following must also be true:
- The value of the property that you stole or intended to steal was more than $950;
- The building you entered was not a commercial establishment; or
- The building you entered was a commercial establishment, but you entered it outside of business hours.
How is Burglary Different from Other Related Offenses?
The crime of burglary in Los Angeles is different from other seemingly similar crimes, like shoplifting, robbery, and breaking and entering. While a burglary charge requires that the person enters a residential building or a commercial building outside of office hours, the crime of shoplifting (Penal Code § 459.5 PC) occurs when a person enters a commercial establishment while the establishment is open, during normal business hours, with the intent to steal property valued at $950 or less. Burglary is often charged in connection with robbery (Penal Code § 211 PC), but this is a separate offense defined as the theft of another person’s property from his or her person or in his or her immediate presence, carried out using force or fear.
The term “breaking and entering” is a popular one commonly used in reference to forced entry into a home or business with the intent to steal, but there is no specific crime known as “breaking and entering” in California, largely because the crime of burglary no longer requires forced entry. In other words, California law does not require that an individual “break into” a residential or commercial property to be guilty of burglary. You can violate Penal Code § 459 PC by simply entering a structure through an open window or unlocked door and stealing something, without using any force.
Penalties for a Burglary Conviction
Under California Penal Code § 459 PC, first-degree burglary is always a felony, punishable by a sentence of two, four or six years in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and felony probation. This crime also counts as a “strike” offense under California’s “Three Strikes” law, which increases the prison sentences of certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felony offenses. Second-degree burglary, however, is a “wobbler” in California, which means it can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor offense, depending on the circumstances of the crime. As a felony, burglary in the second degree is punishable by a sentence of 16 months, two years or three years in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and felony probation. As a misdemeanor, the same charge is punishable by a sentence of up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and misdemeanor probation. If you have been previously convicted of a burglary in Los Angeles and you are charged with another burglary crime, it will most likely be prosecuted as a felony offense.
Defenses to Burglary Charges
Fighting burglary charges is not easy. Fortunately, a knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can inform you of the most useful legal defenses in California burglary cases, and help you develop an effective strategy for defending your innocence. The most common defenses to burglary charges in Los Angeles include:
- Consent – Consent by the owner or person in charge of the home or business is an absolute defense to the crime of burglary in Los Angeles. If the defendant is the owner of the building, or if the owner agreed to let the defendant into the building knowing that he or she intended to commit burglary, this can be used as a defense in court.
- Intoxication – Because intoxication hinders the ability of the defendant to form the requisite intent, this can be used as a defense to Los Angeles burglary charges. However, voluntary intoxication is not a valid defense, the circumstances must be that another person drugged the defendant for this defense to apply.
Some other possible defense strategies in a Los Angeles burglary case include proving: that you were mistakenly identified as the person who committed the crime (mistaken identity); that the police violated your rights; that you did not have the intent to commit a crime at the time you entered the building in question; and/or that the items you stole or intended to steal belonged to you or you believed you had a legitimate claim to them.
Hiring a Skilled Burglary Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Unless you have a solid background in criminal defense, navigating the legal process of defending yourself against California burglary charges can be complicated and confusing. Every county has a different way of doing things and our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles is intimately familiar with the California criminal justice system and the way things work in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. If you or a loved one has been charged with burglary in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to obtain qualified legal representation. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss how you can best defend yourself against burglary charges. With an experienced burglary defense lawyer on your side, you can ensure that you have a complete understanding of your rights under the law and work towards getting your charges reduced to a lesser offense with less severe penalties, like breaking and entering or trespassing.