In the State of California, a person may be arrested for burglary if he or she has entered a building, vehicle, vessel or other structure, intending to steal something, thus committing a felony. This crime is clearly outlined in California’s Penal Code 459.
Understanding Penal Code 459
California’s Penal Code 459 specifically defines burglary as entering a room, structure or locked vehicle with the intent to commit a felony once inside that room structure or locked vehicle. It may also be called “breaking and entering.” It doesn’t matter if one’s entry into a room, structure or locked vehicle was done forcibly or not, however. He or she could still be charged with burglary under Penal Code 459 even if the room, structure or locked vehicle was easily accessible and no break-in took place. In accordance with Penal Code 459, someone in California could be charged and then convicted of burglary for entering a house and taking a laptop and cell phone, for example. Someone also could be found in violation of Penal Code 459 for breaking into a person’s garage and taking tools. Someone even could be charged for cashing a fraudulent check at the bank, in accordance with California Penal Code 459.
Types of Burglary Charges
In California, someone may be charged with first degree burglary or second degree, in accordance with California Penal Code 460. To be charged with first degree, one must have entered another individual’s home, intending to commit a felony. Second degree occurs when someone enters a structure other than a place of residency. First degree is a felony in California. Second degree may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, including what time of day the time took place and what type of structure was entered.
First time offenders for a first degree burglary may face up to six years in a state prison, under California Penal Code 461, and a maximum fine of up to $10,000. A misdemeanor for a second degree burglary could result in a year in a county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Strong Defenses for a Burglary Charge in California
If you or a loved one have been charged with violating California Penal Code 459, it is important to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help determine the best defense strategy to present in court. There are a number of different defenses that could be raised in light of a burglary charge or charges, with successful results possible with the right defense lawyer by your side. Some of the defenses to burglary include the fact that someone was found entering a structure but he or she did not intend to take anything. Maybe, the person charged was mistaken for someone else who did commit the burglary. This would be a case of mistaken identity. Even still, the defendant may have a strong alibi that can prove he or she did commit the crime at hand. There also is the possibility that the defendant was never read the Miranda rights or an illegal search for stolen items took place.