Modesto Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Fight for You
As burglary is a serious charge, you need a serious defense. If you have been charged with burglary, you are encouraged to seek an experienced and determined legal advocate. Reach out to Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated to speak with the firm's Modesto criminal defense attorney at your earliest convenience. The firm offers free case evaluations, so you have nothing to lose and just your freedom to gain!
Understanding the Charge Against You
California Penal Code § 459 states that a person is guilty of burglary when he/she enters a premises with the intention to commit grand larceny, petit larceny, or any felony offense. Like murder, burglary is divided into first and second degrees. Frist degree burglary occurs when an individual enters a dwelling; any other type of burglary is considered a second degree offense. The court may charge burglary as a misdemeanor or felony crime, depending on your criminal history and the circumstances surrounding your case.
First Degree Burglary
In order to commit first degree burglary, an individual must enter an "inhabited dwelling" with the intention to commit another crime. The term "inhabited dwelling" can refer to any number of structures and is not limited to houses, apartments, condos, etc. According to California law, an inhabited dwelling can be a house, vessel, boating home, or trailer coach. The term "inhabited" means that the building or vessel is currently being used as a dwelling place. However, this does not mean that inhabitants must be home in order for the premises to be legally inhabited. If the individual enters the home when its inhabitants are elsewhere, the intruder is still guilty of first degree burglary.
Second Degree Burglary
Any type of burglary that does not fall under § 460(a) of the California Penal Code is considered second degree burglary. Second degree burglary is less serious than first degree burglary. Second degree burglary is committed when a person enters any premises with the intention to commit larceny or a felony offense. An individual can commit second degree burglary by breaking into a room, apartment, tenement, warehouse, mill, barn, stable, outhouse, building, tend, tenement, vessel, aircraft, car, or floating home.
Burglary Penalties in California
Under California Penal Code § 461(a), first degree burglary is punishable by two, four, or six years in a state prison. California Penal Code § 461(b) states that second degree burglary is punishable by no more than one year of incarceration in a county jail. § 462.5(a) of the California Penal Code states that probation will not be granted to any individual convicted of felony burglary – except in unusual cases and when the court decides that probation would be appropriate.
Defending Burglary Accusations in Modesto, CA
In order for a jury to convict you of burglary, prosecutors must demonstrate that you entered the premises with the intention of committing a crime, such as grand larceny. In other words, you cannot face a burglary conviction unless prosecution can show that you intended to commit another crime. Intent can be obvious. For instance if police find a person with lock-picking tools, wearing dark clothing, and trying to enter the back door of a store, prosecutors could easily demonstrate the person's intent to commit a crime. However, burglary cases are not always this obvious and in many cases, lack of intent can be used to your advantage in court.
In other situations, the defendant may be able to establish a case for his/her innocence by demonstrating that law enforcement mixed up the facts surrounding the arrest. For example: Police might assume that you committed burglary when you entered a friend's home to retrieve something that already belonged to you. In this case, the defendant did not commit burglary because he/she entered the premises without the intention to commit a crime. To learn more about burglary charges in Modest, CA, contact our Modesto criminal defense attorneys today. If you or a loved one was arrested for burglary, our firm can help you avoid a conviction. Call our office or fill out a free case evaluation for more information.