Facing a burglary charge in California?
When you are arrested for burglary, your life can change in an instant. You may have been struggling to pay bills or feed your addiction. Or you found yourself in the middle of a messy break-up, and you were trying to take back what you thought was yours. Now you are facing serious jail time or up to 6 years in prison. You don't have to fight alone. If you have been accused of burglary, or if you think you might be, you owe it to yourself to reach out to an experienced California burglary attorney.
Let dedicated California burglary lawyer William S. Kroger fight for you.
Kroger Law Group is here to help with your California burglary charge so you can get back on track. With our experience defending burglary and other serious charges, you may be able to avoid jail time and put this incident behind you for good. Call 323-655-5700 or use our contact page to set up a free, confidential consultation.
What is burglary in California?
California Penal Code 459 defines burglary as the entering of specific structures with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny or a felony inside.
There are two grades of burglary in California: first and second degree. The difference is the type of structure.
Definition of First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary is also called residential burglary. It occurs on the entry of:
- An inhabited dwelling house
- Certain inhabited vessels and floating homes
- A trailer coach, or
- The inhabited portion of any other building.
Inhabited places are still considered to be inhabited if their occupants left the premises solely because of a natural or other disaster.
First degree burglary is committed even if nothing is taken, because the crime occurs at the moment one enters the residence with the required intent. This example may help:
You are walking past your neighbor's house when you look inside their window and notice a brand new laptop computer sitting a coffee table. You decide immediately to break into the home and steal the laptop. You climb the wall to their second-floor balcony, climb over the ledge, and force open the door. Opening the door sets off a silent alarm, and the police arrive and arrest you before you ever reach the laptop.
You committed burglary from the moment you entered the second-floor balcony because you entered the balcony with the intent to commit larceny. Because the structure you entered was someone's residence, the act is a first degree burglary.
Definition of Second Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary is any burglary that is not first degree burglary. This includes a:
- Store, warehouse, or shop
- Mill, barn, or stable
- Locked vehicle
- Locked or sealed cargo container
Second degree burglary also occurs at the moment of entry, whether or not anything is taken. For example:
You are walking through your neighborhood when you pass by the window of a local store that is closed for the evening. When you glance inside, you notice a laptop computer sitting on the counter. You immediately decide to steal the computer. You force open the front door and take the laptop, only to be arrested shortly after. Because you entered a shop with the intent to commit larceny, you are guilty of second degree burglary.
Of course, in order to be found guilty of either first or second degree burglary, the prosecutor has to have enough evidence to prove both your actions and your intent. Just because someone enters a residence or a store, that doesn't mean they intend to steal what is inside. Statements made to police, your prior criminal history, witness testimony, and other evidence can prove or disprove intent. An experienced burglary defense attorney like William S. Kroger will examine the evidence in your case and help you defend your burglary charge in court.
What is the penalty for a California burglary conviction?
The penalties for a conviction for burglary under the California Penal Code depend whether you have been charged with first degree burglary or second-degree burglary. First degree burglary is always considered a felony, but second degree burglary is a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
First degree burglary penalties
A conviction for first-degree or residential burglary carries a penalty of:
- 2, 4, or 6 years in California state prison, and
- A maximum fine of $10,000.
A conviction for first degree burglary also counts as a “strike” under California's Three Strikes law.
Second degree burglary penalties
Second-degree burglary is also known as “commercial burglary.” It generally carries less severe penalties than a first-degree burglary conviction. It is up to the prosecutor to decide if a second-degree burglary will be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Felony second-degree burglary carries a potential state prison sentence of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years. It also carries a maximum fine of $10,000.
Misdemeanor second-degree burglary carries a county jail sentence of up to 1 year. It also carries a maximum fine of up to $1,000.
What can a California burglary defense attorney do in my case?
An experienced criminal defense attorney knows that while every case is different, there are some common legal defenses to a burglary charge. At Kroger Law Group, we understand that every element of the burglary charge must be examined to find the best defense for your unique case. These are some of the arguments that have been successful in other cases:
- There was no intent to commit a crime at the time of entry.
- You believed the property was yours, so you had no intent to steal.
- The structure entered was not inhabited, so no first degree burglary occurred.
- The structure entered did not meet the requirements of first or second degree burglary.
- Someone else committed the burglary.
Contact us at the Kroger Law Group so we can get started on your defense as soon as possible. In addition to these burglary defenses, we also examine every case to protect your rights. In many cases, we can start negotiating with the prosecutor before they decide whether to charge your case as a felony or misdemeanor.
The top 3 questions people ask about the definition of burglary in California.
If you or a loved one is facing a burglary charge, do not hesitate to contact us. Here are three of the common questions people have about burglary in California. If you would like more information, or if you still have a question about burglary in California, we invite you to contact us today.
What is the difference between burglary and robbery?
It's a classic movie scene: a young woman comes home to find her door cracked open and her apartment torn apart. She sees the TV is missing, and she screams: “I was robbed!” The thing is, she wasn't robbed. But shouting “I was burglarized!” doesn't have the same ring to it.
Robbery is the taking of property from someone else against their will using force or fear. Burglary is different from robbery in three crucial ways:
- Burglary doesn't have to involve another person. Robbery does.
- Burglary doesn't require a taking. Robbery does.
- Robbery can be committed entirely outside. Burglary requires a structure.
What is the difference between burglary and larceny?
You may have noticed that one way to commit burglary is to enter a structure with the intent to commit larceny.
Generally speaking, Larceny in California is committed when you move and take possession of the personal property of another with the intent to deprive them of the property. Burglary is different from larceny in three important ways:
- Burglary doesn't have to involve another person. Larceny does.
- Burglary doesn't require that you take possession or move any property. Larceny does.
- Burglary is completed by entering the structure. Larceny is completed by taking possession of and moving the property.
Can I be convicted of burglary if I didn't steal anything?
Yes! You can be convicted of burglary without taking anything. Even if all you did was crack open a window and reach into a house before you were caught. Even if you changed your mind and didn't touch anything else. The crime was committed when you opened the window and put your arm inside.
Start working on your defense today. Contact an experienced California burglary lawyer at Kroger Law Group today.
You deserve a California criminal defense attorney who has decades of experience fighting for people charged with serious crimes like burglary. Set up a free, confidential consultation with William Kroger and the Kroger Law Group so you can see how we will fight for you. Call us today at 323-655-5700 or go to our contact page to send us a message right now.