The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is looking for an armed burglar suspect who might be connected to a murder that happened months ago.
LA Burglar Might be Connected to Murder
LA Sherriff’s Department deputies scanned the hills of an area just north of Mullholland Highway in search for a masked burglar who broke into an office and stole food at a nearby office. According to the Department, “A video system at the location showed one person who was carrying a rifle. The suspect pried open a window to enter the location.”
This is not the first time a similar break-in has happened in the area. While investigators were not able to speak further about the incidences, it is believed the burglar could be living in the wilderness area in order to avoid being detected by the residents.
“It should be noted there have been four or five reported burglaries of unoccupied offices and other buildings at night in the general area in the past two years,” the Department said. “It is unknown if those burglaries are related to this incident, but there are some similarities.”
According to a nearby neighbor, the burglar was spotted wearing a mask and also “tactical-style” clothing.
While it’s too soon to determine, law enforcement officials believe this burglar might have also been involved in the murder of Tristan Beaudette, who was shot to death while camping with his two young daughters.
Other shooting incidents have also been reported in the same area, including one incident which left a hiker injured.
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.
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.
When it comes to California burglaries, home invasion burglaries are seen as some of the most egregious, largely because this type of burglary occurs in a private home while the occupants of the home are present, which makes the crime that much more personal and terrifying for the victims. Because of these elements, home invasion crimes typically carry steep penalties in the state of California, and may include jail time, significant fines and a felony criminal record, among other life-changing consequences. However, there are many different reasons a person may enter a home besides for the purpose of committing a theft or felony, and if you have been falsely accused of home invasion, it is imperative that you enlist the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney to help you avoid a wrongful conviction. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to learn how you can defend yourself against home invasion charges in Los Angeles.
Different Degrees of Home Invasion
Also known as residential burglary, the crime of home invasion occurs when a person or group of people enters an inhabited dwelling with the intention of committing theft, assault or a felony inside the dwelling, such as murder, rape or armed robbery. There are different degrees of home invasion, classified according to the nature of the crime, and each degree carries its own penalties:
- Home invasion in the first degree – This crime may be charged any time a person forcefully enters a dwelling armed with a dangerous weapon while another person is lawfully present in the dwelling.
- Home invasion in the second degree – This crime may be charged any time a person forcefully enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a theft, assault or felony and actually commits the theft, assault or felony.
- Home invasion in the third degree – This crime may be charged any time a person forcefully enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a misdemeanor and actually commits the misdemeanor.
An example of a California home invasion would be if a burglar breaks a window and enters a private home where the occupants are present, with the intention of stealing a television or other private property once inside. If, once inside, the burglar is scared off by an alarm system or a member of the family and escapes through the window, he could still be convicted of California home invasion, even though the theft never actually occurred.
Conviction for Home Invasion Penal Code § 459 PC
Home invasion is a serious offense and a conviction can be life-changing, but just because you have been arrested on home invasion charges, doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty of the crime. In order to convict you of California home invasion, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:
- That you entered an inhabited dwelling; and
- That you entered the dwelling with the intent to commit theft or a felony.
Penalties for a Home Invasion Conviction
It is important to understand that you can be charged with – and convicted of – home invasion without actually committing a theft or a felony offense once you are inside the home. California Penal Code § 459 PC requires only that you enter the home with the intent to commit such a crime. Under PC § 459, the different degrees of home invasion carry different penalties. Home invasion in the first degree, the most serious degree, is a felony offense, punishable by up to 20 years in state prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Home invasion in the second degree is also a felony offense, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and/or up to $3,000 in fines, and home invasion in the third degree is a felony as well, punishable by up to five years in state prison and/or up to $2,000 in fines. Some other possible penalties may apply to a home invasion conviction, including restitution and felony probation.
The criminal sentence imposed in a Los Angeles home invasion case will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the offense, your criminal record, whether anyone was harmed during the home invasion, and the crime you allegedly intended to commit once you were inside the home. If you succeed in committing a theft or felony once you have entered the home, you could face additional criminal charges depending on the nature of the crime. In some cases, home invasion charges are accompanied by robbery charges, which could result in a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law. This law significantly increases the prison sentences of individuals convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more serious or violent felonies.
How is Home Invasion Different from Criminal Trespass?
Home invasion is a type of burglary that occurs while the occupants of the home are present, but without the intent to commit theft or a felony requirement, entering an inhabited dwelling doesn’t on its own constitute a home invasion. What this means is that with an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, you may be able to get your home invasion charges reduced to a lesser offense, such as criminal trespass (Penal Code § 602 PC). Trespassing is a crime closely related to residential burglary and home invasion, but it does not always involve the intent to commit a felony, and it therefore carries much less severe penalties. Under PC § 602 PC, California criminal trespass occurs when you enter and remain on another person’s property without authority or permission, and this crime, usually charged as a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. If the crime is deemed to be especially violent or dangerous, or if you threaten the safety or well-being of someone on the property, you could be charged with felony criminal trespass, punishable by up to three years in state prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
Defenses to Home Invasion Charges
Being convicted of a crime like home invasion is extremely serious, and anytime you are facing criminal charges such as this, you have the right to hire a criminal defense attorney and defend yourself against the charges, offering an argument that explains or justifies your alleged behavior. Some possible defenses to home invasion charges in Los Angeles include the following:
- You entered the home by mistake
- You lacked the required intent to commit a crime inside the home
- You have been falsely accused
- You are the victim of mistaken identity
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles
If you have been arrested for your role in a Los Angeles burglary or home invasion, you could face up to 20 years in prison, plus other potentially devastating consequences. Contact our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.