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.
Affordable Home Invasion Attorney in Los Angeles
When facing charges for a crime like home invasion, it is your Constitutional right to hire an attorney to defend you against the criminal charges and that is a right you should always take advantage of. Under California law, a home invasion burglary is almost always charged as a felony offense, punishable by considerable fines and significant jail time, which can be increased if you have previous convictions for serious or violent felonies. Unfortunately, if you are convicted of felony home invasion, the conviction will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life, possibly affecting your ability to find a place to live, own or possess a firearm, find gainful employment, have custody of your children, or work in certain fields. A knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can ensure that you understand your rights under the law and may be able to minimize the consequences of your arrest. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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
Hiring an Experienced Home Invasion Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Although a California home invasion is a type of residential burglary, the crime is actually considered a form of aggravated burglary and is punished more harshly than most other burglary offenses in Los Angeles. And because the crime of a home invasion burglary is complete as soon as the defendant enters the home with the intent to commit a theft or felony, whether or not he or she is successful, it is a crime that is prosecuted often in Los Angeles, even if the intended theft or felony never occurs. If you have been arrested for your role in a Los Angeles 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.