Burglary, also known as breaking and entering, is unlawful entry into a
building or other location for the purposes of committing a felony offense
such as theft. No physical breaking and entering is required; an offender
may simply walk through an open door to be charged with burglary. Unlike
robbery, which involves the use of force or fear to take another person's
property, there is usually no victim present during a burglary.
The Elements of a Burglary
Under California law, two elements are required to prove burglary: (1)
the accused person must have entered a structure or place that is recognized
under state law as a target of burglary and (2) the accused person must
have entered the target structure or place with the intent to commit theft
or a felony crime.
Degrees of Burglary
In California, the crime is divided into two degrees of severity: first-degree
and second-degree. State law defines
first-degree burglary as any burglary of an inhabited dwelling. "Currently inhabited"
means that the property was used as a dwelling at the time of the burglary,
even if nobody was actually occupying the property. Any burglary not qualifying
as first-degree burglary proceeds as a case of
second-degree burglary, such as commercial burglary of a business.
If you are charged with first-degree burglary, you face up to 6 years in
prison, a maximum of $10,000 in fines, probation and restitution to the
victim(s). Second-degree burglary can result in either a misdemeanor with
up to one year in county jail, a fine and probation or a felony punishable
by up to 3 years in county jail or state prison, a fine, probation, and
restitution. A burglary with explosives is a felony and is punishable
by up to 7 years in prison, fine, probation or parole, and restitution
to the victim(s).
Defending Burglary Cases
A close analysis of the facts of your case and the law of the jurisdiction
may be necessary to fight burglary charges. The most commonly used defense
for burglary cases is the lack of evidence proving intent. Without intent,
there cannot be a conviction. Another common defense is the mistake of
fact. This defense strategy tries to prove that a defendant unknowingly
took something that they thought was okay to take. If a criminal defense
attorney can prove that the defendant took what they thought was their
property, then it cannot lead to a conviction for burglary. The final
and best defense is that a defendant is innocent.
If you or a loved one is being charged with burglary in California, please
contact our Murrieta criminal defense attorneys at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford
& Hanich, to discuss your legal options.
Call us today at (760) 634-7630 or
contact us online to get the help you need.