Auto Burglary Lawyer in Los Angeles
Let Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners Fight Your Charges
Auto burglary (also known as car burglary or vehicle burglary) charges
are serious. Most people assume that being arrested for burglarizing a
car is a fairly simple misdemeanor that can be handled without an attorney.
This is not true! California auto burglary laws are complex, and a charge
can result in a felony conviction, state prison sentence, large fine, and
permanent criminal record. The criminal defense lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have
considerable experience in successfully representing individuals accused
Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers for a
free initial consultation.
Auto Burglary Law in California
According to California Penal Code Section 459, a person who enters a locked
automobile or other motor vehicle or enters the locked trunk portion of
the vehicle (doors locked or unlocked) with the specific intent to commit
a theft, or any felony, is guilty of auto burglary. Auto burglary is the
breaking into a locked vehicle or its trunk with the intent to steal the
car, steal property from inside the car, or commit a felony inside the car.
In other words, if a car is unlocked and someone takes the purse sitting
on the front seat, it is not auto burglary. You would probably be charged
with a theft offense. If you opened the unlocked car door hoping to steal
something, but there was nothing to steal, you could be charged with
criminal trespass or attempted theft.
There must be evidence that the defendant entered the automobile by unlocking
the doors or trunk, prying open the hood, or breaking the windows in order
to be convicted of auto burglary. If you break into a car with the intent
to steal whatever you find inside, but there is nothing to steal, the
offense can still be charged as auto burglary.
It does not matter that you left empty-handed; it is the intent at the
time of breaking and entering that is important. These distinctions are
important because the penalties for auto burglary are often more severe
than the penalties for theft or criminal trespass. Hire a defense attorney
who is familiar with the nuances of these laws.
Penalties and Punishment
In California, auto burglary is
second degree burglary. Second-degree burglary can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor,
meaning it is a "wobbler." In deciding whether to file the case
as a misdemeanor or felony, prosecutors usually consider the offender's
criminal record and the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense.
- If the auto burglary is filed as a misdemeanor, the sentence is one year
in county jail, plus three years of informal probation, fines and restitution.
- If the auto burglary is filed as a felony, sentencing ranges from probation
and county jail time to a maximum of three years in state prison.
In most California criminal courts, felony charges are filed when the defendant
has a prior auto burglary conviction even if the prior auto burglary was
Auto Burglary Related Crimes
Related crimes that can be charged in California include:
Tampering with a Vehicle (Vehicle Code Section 10852) – This is a misdemeanor in California
and involves injury or removal of car parts.
Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (Vehicle Code Section 10851) – This is a "wobbler" meaning
it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
Grand Theft Auto (Penal Code Section 487) –This is also a "wobbler" felony
in California and involves the theft of a vehicle.
Joyriding (Penal Code Section 499b) – This is a misdemeanor that involves
taking a vehicle without permission for temporary use.
Arrested in Los Angeles? Contact Our Firm Immediately!
Being charged with auto burglary is a serious matter that requires consultation
and assistance from an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we are true trial lawyers. We
are not afraid to try a case when the outcome we want cannot be negotiated
with the prosecution. We have the skill, knowledg, and aggressiveness it takes to obtain the
best possible results for you.
Arrange a confidential consultation to learn more about your rights.