Burglary (PC 459):
Entering a Structure or Vehicle to Commit Theft

Burglary is the criminal act of entering any residential Structure, Commercial Structure, or locked vehicle with the specific intent to commit theft or any felony therein.

It is a more serious offense than theft in general and is categories a higher level of culpability. The elements of the crime are met when the defendant enters the structure with the specific intent to commit the crime, thus the crime need not be completed for a conviction. It is charged as either First Degree or as Second Degree.

What does the law say?

Burglary is defined under California Penal Code Section 459 and states, in most part, that “every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel.. with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary.”

What is the penalty associated with Burglary in California?

First degree burglary has a triad of sentences, thus a defendant may be imprisoned in state prison for two (2), four (4), or six (6) years.

Second-degree (commercial) burglary is a wobbler offense in California. Since the crime is a wobbler, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with it as a misdemeanor or as a felony. The term of the sentences imposed: A felony, with a potential county jail sentence of sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years; or A misdemeanor, with a potential county jail sentence of up to one (1) year.

What is First Degree and Second Degree Burglary?

The First-degree one is of a residence while the Second-degree is the one of any other type of structure including but not limited to, stores and businesses.

What is the difference between Burglary and Shoplifting?

Burglary is different from Shoplifting as defined under California Penal Code 459.5 PC. The Shoplifting statute was created by the voter initiative proposition in 2014. Shoplifting occurs when a person enters an open business intending to steal merchandise worth nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or less.

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