If you are charged with committing the crime of burglary in southern California, it is imperative to speak at once with an attorney who is an experienced Long Beach criminal defense authority. Your freedom and your future will be at stake.
In 2016, more than 13,000 burglaries were reported in Los Angeles alone – more than 35 burglaries every day. What constitutes burglary in California? What penalties are imposed for burglary convictions? What steps should you take if you are charged with burglary in this state?
If you’ll continue reading, you will learn the answers to those questions and more in this brief discussion of burglary – and your rights if you are accused of committing burglary – in southern California.
WHAT CONSTITUTES BURGLARY?
If you are charged and convicted of burglary in this state, the consequences will be severe and long-term. Under California law, you commit burglary if you enter a building, a vehicle, or another structure with the intention of committing a felony. The law further specifies:
- Stealing something does not necessarily have to be the intent of the entry. Entering a building or other structure while intending to commit any type of felony constitutes burglary.
- The entry does not necessarily have to be forcible. Even if an entrance is unlocked, if you do not have the right or permission to enter, the entry may constitute burglary.
- The intended crime which motivated the unauthorized entry does not have to be completed. If a burglar is startled and flees before the intended felony can be committed, a burglary has still been committed under California law.
HOW ARE BURGLARIES CATEGORIZED AND CHARGED?
First-degree burglary is a felony charge in the state of California. Second-degree burglary may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor at the prosecutor’s discretion.
First-degree burglary in California is residential burglary – unauthorized entry into an inhabited home, hotel room, trailer, or apartment. A conviction for first-degree burglary in California can land a defendant in prison for up to six years – along with a fine as high as $10,000.
The charge is second-degree burglary if someone illegally enters a non-residential structure in this state – a store, an office, or a warehouse, for example.
Second-degree burglary, if it is charged as a felony, is punishable upon conviction with up to three years behind prison bars. A conviction on a misdemeanor second-degree burglary charge can send an offender to a county jail for up to 364 days.
WHAT ABOUT VEHICLE BURGLARIES?
Vehicle burglaries are usually charged as second-degree burglaries in this state. Owners can protect their vehicles – and deter vehicle burglaries – by parking only in well-lit areas, by always taking the keys and locking the vehicle, and by locking valuables out of sight in the trunk.
When there is a “rash” of residential or vehicular burglaries. or when the police announce a “crackdown” on burglary, innocent people will probably be arrested. It happens more than you may think.
WHAT ARE YOUR “MIRANDA” RIGHTS?
If you are charged with burglary in this state – whether you’re guilty or innocent – you must take advantage of your “Miranda” rights: your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.
Do not forget that whatever you say to the police could be twisted and used against you in court. Insist on having your defense attorney present for any interrogation by the police or the prosecutor – no exceptions.
If you are found guilty of burglary, you will probably be sentenced to probation, but you could serve prison or jail time. A burglary conviction will limit your ability to find a job or even to keep your current job. People will hesitate to trust you. You must have a lawyer’s help at once.
IS SHOPLIFTING CONSIDERED BURGLARY IN CALIFORNIA?
Shoplifting is a distinct crime defined as entering an open business while intending to steal items valued at or under $950. A shoplifting conviction can be penalized with six months in a California jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you are charged with any burglary – or with any other crimes like robbery, theft, or shoplifting – you must have an experienced criminal lawyer’s sound legal advice and aggressive defense representation as swiftly as possible.
California also prosecutes those who are suspected of receiving, hiding, buying, or selling any item that is known to be stolen property. Like second-degree burglary, possessing stolen property is a “wobbler” charge that may be prosecuted either as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
A felony conviction for receiving stolen property is punishable in this state with up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A misdemeanor conviction for receiving stolen property is punishable with up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
HOW WILL YOUR DEFENSE LAWYER FIGHT A BURGLARY CHARGE?
To convict any defendant of any crime – in California and every other state – a prosecutor must prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” That can be difficult in a burglary case because a defendant:
- may have been misidentified
- may have mistakenly taken an item while believing it was his or her own property
- may be the victim of an entirely fabricated burglary story
When you contact a California defense attorney regarding a burglary charge, that attorney will immediately begin to investigate the charge against you.
WHAT IF YOU’RE CHARGED WITH BURGLARY – AND YOU’RE NOT GUILTY?
Your lawyer will question witnesses, compile evidence, and negotiate with the prosecutor to have the burglary charge reduced or dropped entirely. If the charge cannot be dismissed, your attorney may negotiate a plea deal and recommend pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
If you are not guilty of burglary, you should not accept any plea bargain. Insist on your right to a trial by jury. At trial, an experienced defense lawyer will cast doubt on the state’s case against you and will explain to the jurors why they must return a not guilty verdict.
Your lawyer must be an experienced Long Beach criminal defense authority because you will be putting your freedom and future in that attorney’s hands. Don’t even think about trying to defend yourself. Far too much will be at stake. Make the call to a good lawyer instead. That’s your right.