What is Burglary?

Burglary is the unauthorized entry into a building or other structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft once inside (California Penal Code section 459). A “structure” could include a residence, business, locked vehicle, warehouse, aircraft, trailer coach, cargo container, or even a tent or storage unit. Burglary can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the crime and the suspect’s criminal history. So, what is the difference between a FIRST DEGREE BURGLARY AND SECOND DEGREE BURGLARY? The answer has to do with the type of structure you entered to commit the crime.


Every unauthorized entry of a residence, dwelling house, apartment, vessel (designed for habitation) floating home, tent, or trailer coach with the intent to commit a theft or crime is First Degree Burglary. All other kinds of burglary are Second Degree. Additionally, if the person is armed with a deadly weapon during the commission of the burglary, they may face additional criminal charges and penalties. First Degree Burglary is a “serious” felony and a “Strike” and carries a potential state prison sentence of up to six years. Residential Burglary is often referred to as “Res Burg.”

Second Degree Burglary, on the other hand, is the unauthorized entry into a non-inhabited building or structure; commercial store; shop; warehouse; locked vehicle; locked cargo container; mill; barn or railroad car. Prosecutors do not have to prove that you succeeded in stealing or committing a crime – only that you intended to. Second Degree Burglary is not a “Strike” and can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, it carries a state prison sentence of up to three years. If charged as a misdemeanor, it carries a potential county jail sentence of up to 364 days.


A good criminal defense attorney can assist a defendant charged with Burglary by:

  • Investigating the case and gathering evidence to build a strong defense;
  • Interview potential witnesses;
  • Review all the videos (including body-worn videos) related to the case;
  • Explore potential legal defenses such as lack of intent or mistaken identity;
  • Prepare for trial;
  • Prepare and argue to the judge a “Diversion” motion to get your case dismissed;
  • Negotiate with prosecutors to reduce charges or secure a favorable plea bargain that includes no jail or state prison time;
  • Explaining the legal process and potential outcomes to the defendant; and
  • Advising the defendant on whether to accept a plea deal or go to trial.

In Los Angeles, if you have been charged with Burglary, it is important to understand the consequences you may face and to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have a deep understanding of the criminal justice system in Los Angeles and can help you navigate this complex process. With years of experience in criminal defense, they will work tirelessly to build a strong defense for your case, explore potential legal defenses, and negotiate with prosecutors to secure a favorable plea bargain that includes no jail or state prison time.

If you have been charged with burglary in Los Angeles, do not hesitate to reach out to the experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. Contact them today for a consultation and learn what they can do for you.

Related Posts
  • Common Legal Defenses to Murder Charges in California Read More
  • Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Read More
  • Fled the Scene of an Accident - What Do I Need to Know? Read More