Definition and Aspects of Burglary:
The act of Burglary is defined as the act of entering any residential or commercial space or locked automobile with the plan to commit petty theft, grand theft, or felony. Under California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), Burglary is a potential felony-level offense, punishable with expensive fines, probation, and even time spent in county jail or a California state prison.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant infiltrated a room, building, locked vehicle, or structure
- The Defendant had the intention of committing either a felony or theft
- One or more of the following statements apply:
- The Defendant stole or tried to steal property worth $950 or more
- The Defendant entered a building that was not a commercial establishment
- The Defendant entered a commercial establishment building before or after business hours
The Defendant only needs to enter a building for it to be considered a burglary. Under California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), no items actually need to be stolen for a conviction. However, the Defendant has to have the intention of committing a burglary at the time of entering. If the Prosecution cannot prove the intent, the case could be dismissed.
Under California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), there are two types of burglaries – first-degree and second-degree Burglary.
First-degree Burglary refers to any burglary of a home and is sometimes referred to as ‘residential burglary.’ Residential Burglary can occur within an inhabited:
- Boat or floating home
- Trailer coach
- Hotel room
- Or any inhabited portion of any other kind of building
The word ‘inhabited’ refers to the ownership or of someone living there. It does not necessarily mean the person is in the building or onboard at the time of the incident. If the owner left with no intention of returning, it would no longer count as inhabited.
If the attempt or Burglary happened against a commercial space, it is a second-degree burglary or ‘commercial burglary’. This refers to any public place, such as schools, grocery stores, or office buildings.
Criminal Offenses Related to Burglary:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), Burglary:
- Possession of Burglary Tools – California Penal Code 466 (PC 466)
- Burglary of a Safe or Vault – California Penal Code 464 (PC 464)
- Robbery – California Penal Code 211 (PC 211)
- Forgery – California Penal Code 470 (PC 470)
- Petty Theft – California Penal Code 484 (PC 484)
- Grand Theft – California Penal Code 487 (PC 487)
- Trespassing – California Penal Code 602 (PC 602)
Examples of Burglary:
A woman sees into her neighbors’ home and spots a new computer. When she notices the neighbors leave town, she enters the home through an open window. Since she entered an inhabited house with the intent to take the computer, regardless of whether or not the woman succeeded in stealing it, she could be charged with California Penal Code 459 (PC 459).
A man enters a woman’s home while she’s sleeping with the intent of raping her. Regardless of whether he succeeded, the man broke in with the intention of committing a felony. Because of this, he could be charged with California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), Burglary.
Defenses to Burglary:
One of the most common defenses to Burglary is arguing intent. If the Defendant did not intend to commit a felony or theft, California Penal Code 459 (PC 459) would not apply. It is also important to note that the burden is on the Prosecution to prove that the Defendant did not only plan to commit Burglary but that he/she had that intent at the time of entry. If the Defendant entered a building and once inside decided to steal, burglary charges wouldn’t apply.
Another defense relies on the ownership of the product. If the Defendant entered a building to take back something that belonged to them, that is not Burglary. In this scenario, the charges for California Penal Code 459 (PC 459) could be dismissed because the Defendant did not have the intention of committing a theft or felony offense.
Consequences and Penalty for Burglary:
Punishments for California Penal Code 459 (PC 459) depend on the details of the crime.
If the Defendant is being charged for first-degree Burglary, the punishment is felony probation, 2 years– 6 years in a California state prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. Residential Burglary also constitutes as a ‘strike’ on the record of the Defendant.
In the case of commercial Burglary, the penalties are actually lighter. California Penal Code 459 (PC 459), second-degree Burglary is a ‘wobbler’ offense, meaning it could either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the crime’s details and the history of the Defendant. If the Defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, the fines could be as high as $1,000, and the convicted could face up to one year in county jail, as well as probation.
If second-degree Burglary is charged as a felony, the Defendant faces fines up to $10,000, 16 months–3 years in county jail, and felony probation.
Burglary (PC 459), under California Penal Code 459, is a severe offense that could either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the specific details of the crime and the place where the Burglary occurred. It is imperative that if you are charged with the Burglary, you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney in your corner, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 459 (PC 459), Burglary. Book a free consultation today.