Everyone makes mistakes. But sometimes, these mistakes can turn into serious crimes and escalate out of control. For example, take a group of college fraternity kids. After a late night partying on campus they decide to break into their rival’s fraternity and take one of their Greek letters, or a mascot or other property out of the house as a prank. Unfortunately, under California law, this innocent prank can be classified as a burglary. If convicted, these kids can find themselves spending years in prison-with a felony conviction on their records.
Under California law, if you enter another person’s property with the intent to steal or commit any felony therein, you can be charged with burglary.
First Degree Burglary
According to California Penal Code 460(a), an individual can be charged with first degree burglary (also known as residential burglary) if he/she enters into a home or residential dwelling with the intent to commit a larceny or any felony. Even if the dwelling is not currently occupied at the time of the entry, the person can still be charged with first degree burglary. The punishment for a conviction for first degree burglary is harsh because of the law’s recognition of the sanctity of a person’s home and the great likelihood for lethal violence that may occur in defending against such an intrusion.
- Penalties-First degree burglary – A California felony conviction of burglarycomes with 2, 4, or 6 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. In addition, it is a “strike crime”, which can lead to increased penalties and imprisonment.
Second Degree Burglary
Also commonly known as commercial burglary, Second Degree Burglary involves all other types of burglary-most notably shoplifting.
- Penalties–Second degree burglary can either be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Depending on your criminal record, a District Attorney may decide to increase the charges to a felony second degree burglary.
- Misdemeanor second degree burglary-Up to one year in a county jail or prison and a maximum fine of $1,000
- Felony second degree burglary-Sixteen months to 3 years in the state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
Winning your Burglary Case
The first step towards winning your California burglary case is to contact an experienced and aggressive CA criminal defense attorney. In all burglary prosecutions, the burden of proof lies with the People. If your defense attorney can help you establish that you did not enter the home or commercial property with the intent to steal or commit a felony – or that you did not even legally enter, then you may have a defense to the burglary charge. If there is a reasonable doubt regarding the intent of your actions, then you may not be convicted of first or second degree burglary.
Due to the complexities surrounding a California burglary case, it is important to have the best legal representation on your side. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to aggressively negotiate for a reduced charge, such as misdemeanor trespassing, limited jail time and-in some cases-even a complete dismissal. If your burglary case does go to trial, the California defense lawyers at Ahmed & Sukaram will stand up for your rights and fight for a not-guilty verdict.
For more information about California burglary defense, contact Ahmed & Sukaram about your felony or misdemeanor burglary case to discuss your rights and how we can be of help.