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San Diego Burglary Defense Lawyer

If you are facing burglary charges in California state court, you need an aggressive, successful and experienced defense lawyer. Burglary is a serious criminal offense that requires a skilled criminal defense attorney who will fight for your innocence. Mary Frances Prévost is an experienced burglary defense lawyer who aggressively represents defendants in San Diego and the surrounding areas. For a free and confidential consultation about your burglary case, call (888) 909-7896.

What is Burglary under California Law?

California Penal Code § 459 defines burglary as entering a:

  • room,
  • structure, or
  • locked vehicle

with the intent to commit a felony (or a petty theft) once inside.

Sometimes, burglary is referred to as “breaking and entering.” This has led to a common misconception that in order to be convicted of burglary, someone must forcibly enter a room or structure. However, only auto burglary requires an actual break-in. You can still be convicted of burglary if you entered a home or business through an unlocked door or window with the intent to commit a felony or steal something once inside.

Examples of Burglary

Burglary is a broadly-defined criminal offense that encompasses a wide range of activities. Examples of burglary under California law include, but are not limited to:

  • Breaking into a house or apartment to steal jewelry or electronics;
  • Entering a store in the local shopping mall with intent to steal a pair of shoes;
  • Walking into someone’s open garage or carport to steal a bicycle, vehicle, or tools;
  • Entering your place of work with the intent to commit felony assault against a coworker;
  • Walking into a warehouse with the intent to take property you know doesn’t belong to you;
  • Breaking a car window and stealing personal items left in plain view or car stereo equipment; or
  • Entering a bank branch with the intent to cash a check that you know is fraudulent.

What Are the Penalties for Burglary in California?

California law recognizes two categories of burglary, first degree burglary and second degree burglary.

Criminal Penalties for First Degree Burglary in California

Under California law, burglary of an “inhabited dwelling house” such as a house, apartment, hotel room, or any other structure where people are living is always a felony. It is known as “first degree burglary” or “residential burglary.”

The penalties for first degree burglary in California include up to six years in state prison. It is important to understand that first degree burglary counts as a strike under California’s three-strikes law.

Criminal Penalties for Second Degree Burglary in California

Under California law, a burglary committed at a store, business, or any place where people are not residing is considered “second degree burglary.” This offense is also known as “commercial burglary.”

Second degree burglary is known as a “wobbler” offense. This means that prosecutors may choose whether to file the charge as either a misdemeanor or felony. Typically, prosecutors will seek felony charges if the defendant has a prior criminal record or the offense was committed in a particularly serious way.

If you are convicted of felony second degree burglary charges, you could be sentenced to up to three years in state prison. If you are convicted of misdemeanor second degree burglary charges, you could be sentenced to up to one year in county jail.

Defenses to Burglary Charges in California

There are several defenses to burglary charges in California. The information in this section is for information purposes only. You should consult with an experienced burglary defense attorney to learn more about what defenses are available to you in your case.

Legal defenses to burglary charges in California include, but are not limited to:

  • Fourth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • Fifth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • You were mistakenly identified by witnesses;
  • You did not have the intent to commit a felony or theft when you entered the building or room;
  • You did not form the intent to commit a felony or theft until after you entered the room;
  • You took items from the building or room because you genuinely believed the rightful owner had given you permission to do so; and/or
  • The items you took actually belonged to you.

San Diego Burglary Defense Attorney

Mary Frances Prévost offers her clients years of courtroom experience. She is dedicated to zealous representation of individuals facing California burglary charges in courts in San Diego and the surrounding areas. To discuss your burglary case, call (888) 909-7896.

Do not leave your freedom to chance. Contact the Law Offices of Mary Frances Prévost today.

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