If you are facing charges for burglary in Los Angeles do not hesitate to contact The Rodriguez Law Group for immediate legal assistance. The attorneys at The Rodriguez Law Group have nearly two decades of legal experience handling all criminal matters, including complex burglary cases. Led by former prosecutor Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, our legal team has the insight, experience, and skills that are required to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Call us today to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced Los Angeles burglary defense attorneys.
What is Burglary?
In Los Angeles, the crime of burglary is broken down into two distinct criminal offenses. The first is first-degree burglary, which is also known as residential burglary or home invasion. The second is second-degree burglary, which is also known as commercial burglary. The main difference between these crimes is the type of property you enter to commit your crime.
Penal Code 459 PC
Burglary, as defined in California Penal Code Section 459 PC, occurs when you enter property with the specific intent to commit theft or a felony once you are inside. You are not required to actually commit this theft or felony – the fact that you intended to commit the crime is sufficient to warrant criminal charges.
Penal Code 459 PC explicitly lists the following places as locations that, if entered with the intent to commit a crime, can be the basis for charges of burglary:
- House, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse other building, tent, or vessel;
- Railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container;
- Inhabited camper, or mine.
Intent to Commit a Crime
Intent is an essential element to the crime of burglary. You must have the specific intent to commit theft or a felony once you have entered property unlawfully. You cannot be convicted of burglary if you accidentally, mistakenly, or drunkenly entered property that does not belong to you if you did so without intent to commit a crime.
How will the prosecution prove that you had the intent to commit theft or a felony? Many times, the prosecution will rely on evidence that you were in the possession of items that are commonly used in a burglary. These items could include common, everyday tools, such as a screwdriver or pliers.
Common Misconceptions About Burglary
Time of day is irrelevant. Years ago, burglary was often defined as a crime that could, by its very definition, only be committed at night under the cover of darkness. Today, a burglary can be committed at any time during the day.
You don’t have to break in. You don’t actually have to pick a lock or break a window to be charged with burglary. Simply setting foot into a home, business, or barn through an unlocked door is sufficient to satisfy the “entry” requirement for burglary.
No further criminal act is necessary. Again, the crime of burglary only requires that you have the intent to commit a theft or felony. Whether or not you are successful in committing a crime inside the property you enter is irrelevant.
Penalties for Burglary in Los Angeles
The criminal penalties you will face for burglary will depend on the specific charges filed against you in Los Angeles.
First-degree burglary, or residential burglary, is a felony offense in Los Angeles. If you are convicted of first-degree burglary in Los Angeles your criminal sentence could include:
- Two, four, or six years in a California state prison;
- Fines of up to $10,000;
- Probation; and/or
Second-degree burglary, or commercial burglary, can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense in Los Angeles. A misdemeanor conviction for second-degree burglary is punishable by a maximum of 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail and/or $1,000 in fines. A felony conviction for second-degree burglary is punishable by between 16 months and three years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.
The specific penalties that are imposed in your criminal burglary case will depend on the mitigating (helpful) and aggravating (harmful) factors that are present. These may include:
- If you have a prior conviction for burglary;
- The crime you intended to commit during your burglary;
- The type of property you entered; and/or
- Whether the home was occupied during your home invasion.
Defenses to Burglary
Just because you have been arrested and/or charged with the crime of burglary in Los Angeles does not automatically mean that you will be convicted. The prosecution is required to prove that you had the intent to commit theft or a felony once you entered property unlawfully. This can be difficult to prove, especially if you were not in possession of any tools that are commonly used in a burglary. You can make it even more difficult for the prosecution to build a strong case against you by hiring an attorney to defend you.
When you hire The Rodriguez Law Group, we will investigate your case and determine weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Using this information, we will structure persuasive legal arguments to cast doubt on your guilt. Legal arguments that we may make in your defense include:
- You lacked the intent to commit a crime inside the property;
- You mistakenly or accidentally entered property unlawfully;
- The property you entered is not considered a building or structure under Penal Code 459 PC;
- You were intoxicated at the time of your alleged offense;
- You have been falsely accused and/or mistakenly identified;
- You had permission from the owner/occupant of the property to enter;
- You were the victim of force or duress; or
- Violation of your Constitutional rights.
Experienced Los Angeles Burglary Defense Attorney
Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges for burglary in Los Angeles? Contact the Rodriguez Law Group today for immediate legal assistance. If you are convicted of burglary you will face serious time behind bars, substantial fines, and a future burdened with a criminal record. This can affect your ability to secure a job, find a home, and participate in important government welfare programs. In some cases, rights related to owning a gun or having custody of your child may be revoked.
You can reduce the likelihood of suffering from these (and other) consequences by hiring a Los Angeles burglary defense attorney to handle your case. Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule your free consultation.