In the state of California, the crime of burglary as defined by Penal Code Section 459 is the entering of a building to commit either a theft or a felony. Burglary is generally divided into two degrees, first and second degree.
First degree burglary or residential burglary is the entering of a dwelling home with the intent to commit theft or a felony. This crime is a strike offense under California Three Strikes Law and is an irreducible felony. This means that if you suffer a conviction for a residential burglary, you will potentially have a felony on your record indefinitely. It also means that you will always have the strike offense on your record even if the burglary conviction is later expunged! A strike offense in California is considered a serious offense and carries with it potential enhanced penalties. If you suffer a strike conviction, it will likely double up any future potential sentencing you face, as well as count as a strike towards any potential Three Strikes allegations.
It is common for people who are victims of a residential burglary to say they have been “robbed”. This is actually legally incorrect, in that a robbery involves the taking of property from a person by force or fear. In a residential burglary, on the other hand, no one need be home (the victim of the crime) for the crime to be complete.
Second degree burglary or commercial burglary pursuant to Penal Code section 459, on the other hand, is the entering of a building other than a dwelling home, such as a store, for the purposes of committing a theft or a felony. A common example of this type of crime is the “beer run”. In this example, an individual goes to the store with the intent of stealing a case of beer. It is the intent prior to entering the building that distinguishes this crime from that of petty theft. This intent can either be expressly stated by the suspect or may be inferred from the circumstances of the crime. Commercial burglary, unlike residential burglary, is considered a “wobbler” offense in California, meaning it may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Generally, the decision on how to file this charge is based on the dollar amount of the property taken (or attempted to be taken) and the criminal record of the individual. The prosecuting agency, such as the District Attorney’s office, will make the decision on whether to file the case as a felony or misdemeanor based on these factors.
If you were recently arrested for the crime of residential or commercial burglary, contact an experienced burglary defense attorney today at the Law Offices of Parwana Anwar, PLC. Having a burglary conviction on your record will negatively impact your ability to secure or maintain employment and will tarnish your reputation.
Anwar Law Offices provides skilled and aggressive representation to people accused of burglary in San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties. Contact a Murrieta criminal defense attorney today to handle your burglary case. As a former prosecutor, Ms. Anwar has handled countless burglary cases all over the Southern California area and is available to assist you with any burglary charge you may be facing.