San Diego County Burglary Defense
Burglary does not necessarily equate to robbery and theft. A person can be charged with burglary in San Diego County, if he illegally entered another person’s house or any building (without any permission from the owner) to commit a crime inside the property. On the other hand, theft or larceny is a crime in which the defendant took away another person’s possessions, intending to deprive him of it. In contrast, robbery involves the use of coercion, fear, or threat to obtain another person’s belongings.
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What is Burglary?
Burglary comprises of three main elements: the unauthorized breaking and entry, a building occupied by someone else, and the intent of committing a crime inside. These three should be present in a suspicious scenario to consider a case burglary and convict the defendant.
Breaking and Entering
Breaking into a structure is the act of entering a property without the owner’s consent. It can occur in two means: actual and constructive. Actual breaking is an entry with physical force—kicking a door, hammering a door padlock, pushing any barrier. Whereas, constructive breaking involves entry that uses cunning devices, not physical force. These include blackmail, fraud, or threat.
The burglar doesn’t need to enter the occupancy all the time, merely sticking a body part inside through a window can be considered burglary as well as other minimal methods of entry. It also needs to be unauthorized—meaning to say the owner did not give his consent for the burglar to enter his property.
An occupied structure means the building is owned by someone else. To charge burglary, the culprit must unlawfully enter an occupied structure because burglary is a crime of intrusion. Primarily, it pertains to breaking into one’s residence, office building, and the like.
The structure must be a private building, one that’s not opened to the public. If a person enters a mall within its opening hours and steals something from a mall, it is not considered a burglary, but shoplifting. Uninhabited buildings are not qualified as properties where burglary can occur.
The Element of Intent
The third and last element is the most important factor in charging someone with burglary. The person should have the intention of breaking into the property and commit a crime inside. Mental intent is essential in constituting a burglary. The usual crime is theft, but others such as assault, battery, etc. can be done as well. The intent to commit a crime should be separate from the act of breaking in itself. If the prosecutor fails to prove the defendant’s specific intent to carry out such crime, the charges are invalid.
Degrees and Penalties of Burglary
There are two degrees of burglary established by the California state laws: first-degree and second-degree. First-degree burglary is defined as “any burglary of an inhabited dwelling,” whereas second-degree burglary is any burglary not qualifying as the first-degree burglary. This includes commercial burglary of a business or mall. Burglary with explosives is another statute defined in California Penal Code Section 464.
First-degree burglary is a felony punishable by up to 6 years in country jail together with a maximum fine of $1,000, probation, and restitution of property to the owner. Second-degree burglary is considered two things: a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature of the offense. A misdemeanor in California is punishable by up to one year in county jail, maximum fine, and probation. Meanwhile, a felony is punishable by up to three years in state prison or county jail or fine or both and probation. Restitution to the victim(s) is also required.
Lastly, burglary with explosives is considered a felony. It is punishable by up to 7 years in state prison, maximum fine, probation, and restitution to the property owner(s).
Burglary Defenses in California
To reverse a burglary accusation, the defendant will need to work on a strong defense that can throw out the job of the prosecutor. Here are some of the defenses that a theft defense attorney can suggest for you to use in your case:
- Actual Innocence
Actual innocence is a burglary defense that convinces the court that the defendant did not perform any of the acts accused to him. In any California court, the prosecution should prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So, anything that contradicts the prosecutor’s claim can be a factor of the defendant’s imminent win.
- Defense to Commit the Crime
Defense to commit the crime pertains to the defendant’s acknowledgment of his acts, yet denying it’s a crime. Usually, they say that the owner or occupant allowed them to enter the house; hence, the absence of unauthorized entry.
- Lack / Absence of Intent
As a defense of any burglary charges, the accused can say that he has no intent in carrying out the crime. He can use voluntary intoxication as an argument, making him mentally or physically impaired during the time of the act.
Entrapment means the accused was only told to do such crime; otherwise, he wouldn’t have done it. The situation only entrapped him, or someone made him do it. Although entrapment is hard to prove in court, if successfully done, it can counter the burglary charge against you.
Get Legal Help in California
Defending yourself in court and convincing the jury is a difficult task if you are on your own. It’s even more confusing if you are not knowledgeable about the offense being charged against you. To help you win your case, get legal help from Lee Law Group in San Diego County. It is a pool of successful and passionate theft defense lawyers who will help you get through the hearing process. From the interrogation to the trial, they will be working on giving you the best possible defense that you can use to cancel the charges put in your name.
Contact Lee Law Group at (619) 349-1588 to book a free consultation!