Burglary is serious offense, and requires a serious defense. Call and speak to a seasoned Los Angeles burglary attorney at Shield Criminal Defense Law today for a free analysis of your case at (213) 514-8732.
When most people think of burglary, they imagine a thief in all black attire sneaking into a home or a museum in the middle of the night. While this activity certainly counts as burglary, the legal definition covers a much wider range of activities.
A person commits burglary when they enter any structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. Some people are surprised to learn that breaking into a locked vehicle is also considered burglary under California law.
But I didn’t take anything, why was I charged with burglary?
The crime of burglary occurs as soon as the defendant enters into the building or vehicle with unlawful intent, even if the intended criminal act never occurs.
Burglary can be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on what type of structure is involved.
- Residential Burglary– Breaking into someone’s home is considered First Degree Burglary and will always be charged as a felony. A conviction will result in a “strike” under California’s “Three Strike” law.
- Commercial Burglary– Breaking into an office building or non-residential structure is considered Second Degree Burglary. This offense can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. Sometimes, even shoplifting can be charged as commercial burglary if the defendant has tools that prove they planned to shoplift before the entered the store i.e., bag to conceal items or tools to remove anti-theft tags
- In the state of California, the Possession of Burglary Tools is also considered a crime. Just being have tools commonly used for forced entry is enough to be charged criminally.
- You will also be charged with Burglary for breaking into a locked automobile. This can include “jimmying” the door lock, or breaking the windshield or windows to gain entry.
Free Consultation with a Los Angeles Burglary Lawyer
What are the consequences of a burglary conviction?
Much like burglary offenses themselves, the punishments for burglary convictions also widely vary. Consulting a Los Angeles burglary attorney may drastically reduce your consequences. Depending on whether your burglary offense is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, you could face punishments such as:
- Lengthy incarceration
- Fines up to $10,000 per California law
- Restitution paid to the victim (in addition to court-related fees)
- A “strike” under the California Three Strikes Law
In California, a Burglary conviction is also subject to sentence enhancements under the following circumstances:
- You burglarized a home with the residents inside (California law considers this a violent crime, even if no one was physically harmed)
- You are convicted of felony burglary AND you have previous felony convictions. (California law mandates that if you are ordered jail time for your burglary offense that you will receive an additional 1-year prison sentence for each of your prior felony convictions.)
How can Shield Criminal Defense Law defend my burglary charge?
There are several defenses we can explore dependent upon the facts of your arrest and charging documents. The most common being:
- Mistaken Identity-a dimly lit area or an intruder with a mask could easily result in improper identification of the perpetrator
- Insufficient Evidence-Lack of fingerprints, motive, or eye-witness testimony proves for a weak case for the prosecution.
- Ownership-if you entered a residence or commercial building without force to reclaim something that already belonged to you, it takes away the criminal intention and can be successfully argued that it was not burglary.
- Intent– if you entered a residence or commercial building without force, and without the intention of committing a crime then we can argue that you are not guilty of burglary
An accusation of Burglary can be damaging, and you should never make any decisions about your case without first talking to an experienced Los Angeles burglary lawyer. Call Shield Criminal Defense Law at (213) 514-8732 for a free analysis of your charges. We are available 24 hours a day to speak with you.