Burglary is the crime of breaking and entering a home, car or other structure with the intent to steal something or commit any felony. Importantly, you don't have to have actually stolen something or committed the secondary crime to be charged with burglary. But to get a conviction, the prosecution has to show that you intended to steal something. This is important, because it's difficult for prosecutors to prove intent. Our San Bernardino County burglary attorneys can mount a strong defense in burglary cases where intent was not clear.
California law defines two degrees of burglary. First-degree burglary is always charged when the defendant is accused of breaking and entering an inhabited home or building. All other kinds of burglary are second-degree burglary. This distinction is important. A first-degree burglary (residential burglary) is considered a serious crime and is charged as a felony. That means the penalties for first-degree burglary are considerably higher -- two, four or six years in prison, rather than up to a year in jail for second-degree burglary. First-degree burglary is also considered a serious or violent felony, which makes it a "strike" under the three-strikes law. Any strike conviction is bad, because it reduces your eligibility for parole and doubles your sentence for any subsequent felony conviction.
To convict you of either kind of burglary, prosecutors must show that you specifically intended to commit a theft or a felony when you entered the building. This requires more than merely showing you were there. After all, deciding you would take something once you were inside wouldn't meet the definition of the crime. Prosecutors must have a confession or strong circumstantial evidence of intent, like a written plan for the burglary. In some cases, prosecutors overload petty theft cases with inappropriate burglary charges in order to pad their conviction records. Never plead guilty without speaking to our Los Angeles County burglary defense lawyers about your case.
HOWARD LAW, PC aggressively defends burglary cases where there's no real evidence of intent, or in cases of clear mitigating circumstances like the owner's consent. In cases where a conviction could have serious negative consequences for our clients, we also negotiate hard to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanor charges, or misdemeanors reduced to shoplifting infractions. And whenever possible, we ask for penalties like probation and work-release that have minimal effects on your life and your family.
If you're accused of burglary in California, you should call our Riverside burglary criminal defense attorneys right away. To set up a consultation, you can contact us through our site or call toll-free at 1-800-872-5925