When charged with burglary, you are likely to receive severe penalties. It would help if you took all possible measures to protect your freedom, rights, and future. Additionally, You need a top-notch criminal defense attorney who will help you navigate the criminal justice system. Orange County Criminal Lawyer is a law firm that provides quality legal presentation and develops strong defenses.

We have the best attorneys who do their best to protect both your future and rights. Regardless of how complex the cases appear, we believe in aggressive representation for all our cases in Orange County. We have many years of experience and in-depth knowledge of handling and winning complex cases. Our attorneys will defend your case skillfully and vigorously to prevent you from receiving penalties.

What's the Meaning of Burglary Per California Law?

In California, PC 459 defines burglary as walking into a residential building, commercial, or a vehicle to commit grand larceny, petty theft, and misconduct while inside. You have committed burglary by entering a structure such as a store, tenement shop, apartment, or a house with criminal or illegal purposes. The burglary comes in two forms:

  1. First-degree burglary
  2. Second-degree burglary

First-degree burglary is breaking into an inhabited building or the invasion of a residential home. If you are caught breaking in a motel room, a house currently occupied, or a portion of any building, you will be charged with first-degree burglary.

On the other hand, second-degree burglary includes invading different buildings, including business premises. You commit a second-degree burglary by entering any structure that is not a residential apartment or home. Additionally, when you enter a car, store, or business premises with criminal intent, you will be charged with second-degree burglary.

Elements of Burglary

In California, new laws have been enacted over time, from traditional laws to current laws. For a defendant to be declared guilty for a burglary crime, the prosecution should prove the following elements:

Breaking and Entry

For actual breaking, the defendant must have used physical force such as kicking in a door or picking a lock to access a structure. In this element, the prosecutor needs to prove you used force to access the building. The prosecution also needs to provide temporary or permanent staying of the defendant in the room to commit a crime. The prosecution must prove you physically entered the structure, and if not, it doesn't count as a crime.

The Defendant had the Intention of Committing a Crime

The defendant should have intended to commit a crime. Additionally, timing is a fundamental factor in this case since it helps determine the burglary’s degree. The prosecution needs to give evidence that the defendant had an intent to commit a crime. Additionally, the prosecutor needs to prove the defendant had burglary tools, including hack, pliers, and saw. In case the prosecutor cannot prove you intended to commit a crime while entering the property, you are acquitted.

You Broke Into Someone Else’s Property At Night

Nighttime refers to an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset. Nighttime burglaries are mostly treated as first-degree burglaries. Additionally, burglaries taking place in residential areas at night are punished severely than those in commercial buildings. If you possess weapons, possible punishments are severe.

Structure or Building

The building should meet some requirements to fulfill a crime element. In California, the system should house animals or people, such as a garage, store, home, or shed. The structure must have been locked at the time of the burglary. If you enter a store and steal during operating hours, it would be considered shoplifting, not burglary. Besides, if you enter a Store after the working hours, this would be burglary since you forced entry.

Many factors need consideration when there are suspected burglary crimes. You would be lucky to have a solid defense to use after being charged with the crime. It would be vital to choose an experienced attorney for your case. Contact us at Orange County Criminal Lawyer for more details.

What are the Penalties for Burglary in Orange County?

In California, burglary penalties are severe. However, the sentence for burglary charges depends on the degree of burglary, for instance, a  first or second degree.

If charged, you need to know your rights to protect yourself. You, therefore, need help from a competent lawyer since such charges carry life-altering effects.

First-degree burglary is considered a felony. The charges are:

  • Two, four, or six years imprisonment
  • A fine not exceeding $10,000
  • It also counts as a strike offense.
  • Formal probation

Second-degree burglary is a wobbler. It can either be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on facts that surround your case. A misdemeanor is punishable with up to a year in the county jail. You could pay a fine of up to one thousand dollars or a combination of the two. Again, felony results in sentences ranging from sixteen months to three years in jail, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or a combination of the two. 

Is Burglary the Same as Shoplifting?

Many people confuse shoplifting and burglary with being the same thing. Shoplifting refers to entering a business enterprise, including supermarkets planning to steal some property worth 950 USD or less. If you enter a commercial establishment during working hours, then steal a product worth 950 USD and less, you will be charged with shoplifting.

However, if the property were more than 950 USD, you could be charged with second-degree burglary. Additionally, if you intend to steal before entering a building, store, or residence, you are accused of burglary. If you didn't intend to steal anything, then took some of the building properties on impulse, you should face shoplifting charges and not burglary since you didn't plan to steal before entering the building.

Other Crimes Charged Alongside Burglary

Apart from burglary, there are other related charged crimes in California. However, they have different punishments and penalties. Therefore, you need to differentiate burglary with other related crimes. Common crimes charged alongside burglary in California are:

Possessing a Burglary Tool

In California, the law prohibits possessing, selling, and manufacturing certain dangerous weapons, including nunchucks, brass knuckles, screwdrivers, pliers, slim jims, crowbars, and barreled shotguns. When arrested during, or shortly after committing a California burglary, then found carrying any burglary tools, you may be charged with both PC 459 and PC 466. Possessing the devices is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in the Orange County Jail. Common defenses you can use to argue your case in court include:

  • You had no criminal plan
  • The devices were discovered after an illegal seizure
  • The items the police found in your car did not qualify to be burglary tools.

In California, Possessing Burglary Tools is Punishable by:

  • Serving time in jail up to six months in County Jail
  • Summary of probations for three years
  • A fine not more than $ 10,000

Trespassing - Penal Code 602 PC

In Orange County, a person commits the trespass offense if they enter or stay on someone's property without the right to do so. Trespassing relates to burglary such that the defendant with a burglary charge can use trespass as a defense of reducing the burglary charge. If the burglary prosecution charge has weak evidence of proving your intentions of committing a felony, you can negotiate to be charged with trespassing. Common defenses for trespass are:

  • You had permission from the owner to be on the property
  • The property was not fenced or signed for trespass as an infraction
  • You did not occupy or interfere with any activity on the property


Forgery is creating, interfering, or obtaining a written document to deceive knowingly. For instance, if you enter a bank intending to make a forged cheque, you commit forgery.

Forgery falls under several subdivisions, including writing a bad check, signing another person's name, passing a false document, counterfeiting money, or identifying knowingly.

For instance, if you enter a bank with fake money or forged financial documents, you will be charged burglary plus forgery at the time of the arrest. The punishment is a one-year sentence in the county jail for a misdemeanor and a three-year prison sentence for a felony.

Legal defenses to forgery cases are:

  • You were falsely accused
  • You didn't intend to defraud someone
  • If you signed using your name instead of fake or another person's name
  • You were allowed by another person to sign on their behalf


Embezzlement refers to the unlawful taking of money entrusted to you and belongs to another person. Embezzlement is a unique crime since you had control over the funds, but you took them for your benefit. The cases mostly occur in employment situations whereby an employee has the authorization to access the property,  including credit cards and money. With such privileges, the employee can take a considerable amount of cash without permission. Being convicted with California embezzlement is a distraction.

In California, taking any property entrusted to you illegally is a felony. The prosecution can charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or felony embezzlement. The cost of the property determines the amount payable, and you will lose your future employment. Alternatively, after the conviction it may lead to imprisonment and lack of freedom. Additionally, you will receive a criminal record and significant fines from the court.

Common Legal Defenses for Embezzlement

  • The defendant did not use the property or money for their benefit
  • The defendant had no intention of depriving
  • In cases where the defendant believed that they had the right to the property

Proving embezzlement may be challenging. However, the prosecutor needs to prove several facts to obtain a conviction. The facts include:

  • The defendant intended to deprive the owner
  • The defendant used or converted the property for their benefits

Burglary Using Explosives

If someone uses acetylene, torches, or explosives in openings, safe vaults, or other secure places during violations, he/she is charged with burglary. For one to be charged with burglary with explosives, it doesn't matter if the building was prohibited. Additionally, it doesn't matter whether the burglary took place during the day or night. You can't be declared guilty of burglary of a safe if you didn't enter the building and then tried opening a safe.

Penalties for Burglary with Explosives

  • Formal probation
  • Three years, five years, or7 years in county jail
  • A maximum fine of 410,000
  • Legal defense

If you didn't enter the building, our experienced Orange County Personal Lawyer could negotiate to have the charge reduced to burglary tools. The prosecution will likely agree if you didn't enter the house as the circumstance acts as evidence leading to a weak case.


It refers to taking someone's property from his immediate presence, accomplished by fear or force. If the suspect used fear or force, he would be charged with robbery and burglary. Besides, if a suspect held somebody in the street, then took their property, they would be charged with robbery. In California, theft is a crime punishable by two up to five years in prison.

Circumstances Charged with Robbery

  • When you enter an inhabited house while people are present, then threaten physical harm before stealing.
  • If you drag somebody while taking their belongings
  • In cases where, after being caught stealing, you risked the victim bodily harm

In Orange County, a defendant faces burglary and robbery if he/she enters or gains access to a building or someone else's property, or he/she planned to steal when he entered the building. Furthermore, the defendant faces both robbery and burglary if, while inside, he/she applied force or threatened fear to steal from the person on the premises. In California, robbery offense is filed as a felony, making the robbery victim penalties harsh.

Common Legal Defenses for Robbery

In Orange County, there are some incidences where the defendant may seek a defense against robbery. The instances include:

  • If the defendant has the right to the property
  • The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity.
  • In cases where the defendant is falsely accused of robbery
  • When the defendant did not use force or fear to steal the property

Speaking With an Attorney

It would be best if you talk with an attorney to defend you against burglary charges. The right way to defend yourself  is by hiring a competent Lawyer. Contact Orange County Criminal Lawyers to discuss your case and find out legal defense options. We are highly qualified and experienced lawyers devoted to protect and defend your rights.

Fighting a Burglary Charge

In California, these cases may be unique as the prosecution doesn't have a burden to prove whether the defendant committed a felony by accessing currently occupied residential homes or commercials. The prosecutor only needs to show a plan or intent of committing a California felony. If there is a failure to illustrate an essential purpose, this provides a chance for the California criminal defense attorney to build a robust legal defense. Here we have some of the most familiar legal defenses in PC 459:

Claiming of Right

 Note that the mistaking of fact is a legal defense often related to a lack of intention in penal code 459. Therefore, you will not be guilty of penal code 459 if: you strongly believe that you were given permission to take the commodity or walked into another house to return some items you initially thought were yours. Therefore, your Lawyer can argue the claim of right. It will help in proving that you had no plans or intentions of committing a crime.

Factual Innocence

By proving that you did not participate in burglary, you can then fight a PC 459 charge. this scenario may happen as a result of:

  • Misleading evidence
  • Mistaken identity
  • When someone is falsely accusing you since s/he wants to revenge on you or has mental problems

An excellent legal defense will poke holes in the prosecution's evidence to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

Lack of Intent

The intent is often crucial to a Panel Code 459 prosecution. If you walked into another person's room without any intent of committing burglary, then you will not be convicted of burgling. The timing of the purpose is also essential. It would help if you had a plan to commit a crime at the time you entered the structure. If you formed the intent after entering the building, then you are not guilty of burgling.

For instance, you went to a friend, borrowed a serving dish for your dinner party, and when returning them, you realize that the friend isn't in the house, and the door is open. After entering, you find $1000 lying on the table and deciding to take $200 and leave.

If you are later arrested and charged with burglary, your attorney can argue that you went to the room to return serving dishes with no plans to steal from the friend. Therefore, burglary charges may be dropped, and you will be charged with petty theft.

Police Misconduct

On some occasions, police tend to be overeager and might take shortcuts to solve a burglar case. However, this can compel them to act in a way that they disobey your rights. These unfair actions might be:

  • Fabricating evidence
  • Coercing you to confess
  • Illegal seizure and search

If police misconduct has occurred or is suspected, you can file a pitchess motion against the officer. The pitchess motion will allow in seeing whether there are other people with similar cases concerning the officer.

Accordingly, upon realizing the police were involved in the act which violated California laws, the evidence presented to the court may be dropped, leading to a reduction of charges or dismissal of burglary charges.

Allowed Entry

The defense Lawyer here admits that you entered the property, but it is not like it seems. This is because entering a property is not a crime, especially if you had the room's occupant or owner's consent. Thus, the entry was authorized. If the defendant believes that the property owner allowed them to enter, even under erroneous conviction, the fact remains they have the owner's permission.

You are Innocent

In the defense, your attorney needs to convince the court you didn't commit the discussed offense. In cases where the prosecution fails to produce a standard prove that you committed the crime, you will gain an advantage. Questioning the evidence presented by the prosecutor is the right way of creating doubt in their minds, which sometimes results in exculpation.

A Case of Entrapment

Currently, being caught in traps is very common. You could have committed the crime under fraud, harassment, flattery, or increased police pressure. Our skilled attorneys can have your case dropped if you prove enticement. The defense lawyer claims that the defendant was being lured into committing such law enforcement officers. However, if a defendant uses the entrapment defense, proving becomes a challenge. You can use the method as your defense only if you have a piece of evidence as a backup.

Find a Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Consider seeking the help of an experienced criminal lawyer when facing burglary charges. Committing burglary is a crime with severe penalties in California. However, hiring skilled criminal lawyers to handle your case prevents severe consequences. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we have skilled attorneys who can help build defense strategies to dismiss or reduce your charges. Our Lawyers use the best defense strategies to defend you. Contact us at 714-831-1858 and talk with a criminal attorney.

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