Los Angeles Burglary Defense Attorney

Burglary Defined Under California Penal Code § 459

Under California Penal Code Section 459, burglary is defined as the act of entering onto someone else's property with intent to commit a theft crime or some other felony. This includes almost any type of residence or structure—including a home, apartment, warehouse, store, building, etc. Burglary is prosecuted as a felony offense in the state of California, which can result in a term of imprisonment and a "strike" on your criminal record. If you have been charged with burglary, we encourage you to put your case in the hands of a criminal defense attorney from Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners.

The Difference Between First & Second Degree Burglary

The main difference between first and second degree burglary, as defined under Penal Code § 459, is that a first degree offense involves the burglary of a residential structure and a second degree offense involves the burglary of a commercial structure. This means that you could be charged with first degree burglary if you have been accused of breaking into a home, boat, trailer, attached garage, etc. Second degree burglary involves breaking into any other type of building or structure (i.e. a car or store).

For example, you may be charged with second degree burglary in connection to a shoplifting offense. First degree burglary is prosecuted as a felony, and can result in a "strike" on your criminal record. Second degree burglary is a "wobbler," which means that it could either be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony. The severity of your charges will ultimately depend on a number of different factors, including the prosecutor's discretion, your criminal history and the nature of the crime.

Charged with auto burglary? Click here to learn more about these charges.

What are the penalties for burglary in California?

First degree burglary is considered to be a felony in California, whereas second degree burglary could either be treated as a misdemeanor or felony. This means that the severity of the penalties you face will depend on the nature of your charges.

The penalties for felony first degree burglary include:

  • Two, four or six years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in various fines
  • "Strike" on your permanent record

The penalties for felony second degree burglary include:

  • 16 months, two or three years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in various fines
  • No "strike" on your permanent record

The penalties for misdemeanor second degree burglary include:

  • Maximum of one year in county jail
  • Up to $1,000 in various fines
  • No "strike" on your permanent record

Legal Defenses to a Burglary Charge

Burglary cases are unique in that it does not need to be proven that a theft crime or felony offense was actually committed inside the residence or commercial building. Rather, it only needs to be established that you entered the building unlawfully, and with the intent to commit a crime. The key to any burglary case is intent, and the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor. If they cannot prove that you committed a crime after entering the property, it would be hard to prove that you intended to do so.

If the requisite intent cannot be established, your Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer would have a good chance at defeating the charges. Another common defense to burglary charges is that the defendant had a legitimate reason for being on the premises in the past. Thus, if your fingerprints were lifted from the crime scene, they could be explained by a prior visit. Another viable criminal defense would be to establish that you are the victim of mistaken identity—as is true in many burglary cases.

Contact a Firm with 70+ Years of Legal Experience

Burglary charges are serious. Serious charges require a serious defense, so it is highly recommended that you seek counsel from the criminal attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. With more than seven decades of combined experience, we are no stranger to the courtroom. We advocate for our clients at every step of the criminal process, and you can trust that we will do the same for you. In fact, this zealous representation has helped us to secure many favorable results for our clients. Our trial lawyers are ready to seek a "not guilty" verdict in your case – call now to get started.

Have you been charged with burglary in Los Angeles, CA? Contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to schedule your free initial consultation.