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Burglary: PC 459

Burglar carrying the tool of choice

In California criminal law, burglary stands as a serious offense with severe consequences if convicted. Defined under California Penal Code sections 458-464, burglary encompasses a range of actions and scenarios. See below for an explanation of the crime of burglary in California, including the elements that must be proven to be convicted, the penalties if convicted, and some of the common defenses to get charges dropped or reduced or win an acquittal at trial. If you have been arrested for burglary or other felonies or misdemeanors in San Bernardino County, contact Attorney John D. Lueck for practical advice and immediate assistance from a skilled and experienced Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense lawyer.

What Is Burglary?

Burglary, as per California law, involves entering a structure with the intent to commit theft (grand or petit larceny) or any felony inside. The term “structure” can encompass various premises, including residential homes and apartments, commercial buildings, tents, campers, and more. It’s crucial to note that actual theft or felony commission need not occur for burglary charges to apply; the mere act of entering with the requisite criminal intent is sufficient.

Elements of Burglary

For a conviction of burglary, certain elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Entry: The defendant must have unlawfully entered the structure. This entry can be through force, fraud, or without the owner’s consent.

  2. Intent: The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant entered the structure with the intent to commit theft or a felony inside. This intent is a critical component of burglary charges.

The burden is on the prosecutor to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense attorney’s job is to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence and raise reasonable doubt.

Possible Penalties for Burglary Convictions

The penalties for burglary convictions vary based on factors such as the type of structure entered and any prior criminal history. In California, burglary is categorized into two degrees:

  • First-Degree Burglary: This applies to burglaries of inhabited dwellings, vessels and floating homes. It is considered a felony punishable by up to six years in state prison.

  • Second-Degree Burglary: All other forms of burglary fall under this category. Second-degree burglary is also a felony but carries lighter penalties, typically ranging from one to three years in state prison.

  • Shoplifting: It’s important to note that the burglary statutes make a distinction between burglary and shoplifting. Shoplifting is defined as entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while the establishment is open during regular business hours where the value of the property intended to be taken does not exceed $950. All other entries into a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny are burglary offenses. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor and cannot be charged as burglary.

Defenses Against Burglary Charges

Despite the seriousness of burglary allegations, several defenses may be applicable:

  1. Lack of Intent: If the defendant can demonstrate that they did not enter the structure with the intent to commit theft or a felony, the prosecution’s case may weaken significantly.

  2. Consent: If the defendant had permission to enter the structure or believed they did, they may have a valid defense against burglary charges.

  3. Mistaken Identity: In cases where identification is in question, establishing mistaken identity can cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

These defenses can help lead to a judgment of acquittal or not guilty verdict at trial. In addition, an effective criminal defense attorney might also be able to get charges reduced or dropped by raising issues such as unlawful search and seizure, procedural violations, or pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Navigating burglary charges requires a skilled and experienced legal advocate. A criminal defense attorney experienced in burglary cases can provide invaluable assistance in several ways:

  • Legal Expertise: With a deep understanding of California’s burglary laws, an experienced lawyer can assess the specifics of your case and develop a tailored defense strategy.

  • Investigation: Conducting a thorough investigation, including gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses, is crucial in building a robust defense.

  • Negotiation Skills: In some cases, negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges or alternative sentencing options may be possible, mitigating the potential consequences.

  • Court Representation: As your legal representative, your lawyer will advocate for your rights and interests in court, presenting a compelling defense on your behalf.

Contact Attorney John D. Lueck for Smart and Effective Defense Against Burglary Charges in Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino County

Burglary charges carry severe repercussions, making it imperative to seek competent legal representation at the earliest opportunity. As a Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorney, Attorney John D. Lueck is committed to providing the highest level of advocacy and support to individuals facing burglary allegations in San Bernardino County. Call the office at 908-484-1963 or reach out to Attorney Lueck directly on his cell phone at 909-646-2736 for a free consultation and take the first step toward protecting your rights and future.

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