In the common law, burglary was defined as the breaking and entering of a dwelling place, at night, with the intent to commit a felony or petty (petite) theft. It was considered to be an extraordinarily serious crime, as the crime could only occur at night, generally in the dark, which considerably elevated both the inhabitant's fear and the danger the burglar presented.
Modern burglary as codified in California is still considered a very serious crime, but it now encompasses vehicular, commercial and residential burglary, and the night-time element has been eliminated. Residential burglary is also a “strike” within the meaning of the “Three Strikes and You're Out” law.
Burglary is commonly charged by alleging violations of Penal Code section 459, defining burglary, and section 460, setting forth the degrees. When the charge is set forth as a violation of Penal Code section 459/460(a), the District Attorney is alleging burglary of the first degree. When the charge is set forth as a violation of Penal Code section 459/460(b), the District Attorney is alleging second degree burglary. First degree burglary is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. Second degree burglary is a wobbler, meaning it may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. A person convicted of second degree burglary may be sent to jail for up to a year or imprisoned pursuant to subdivision (h) of section 1170 for sixteen months, two years, or three years. The court may grant probation in first degree cases, but only in unusual circumstances where the interests of justice would best be served if the defendant is granted probation.
In November 2014, the voters enacted Proposition 47, which created a new crime – shoplifting. (Penal Code section 459.5.) Shoplifting is stealing during the regular business hours in which a store operates, where the value of the theft does not exceed $950.00. Generally, shoplifting is a misdemeanor.
Please call me today if you need representation in a burglary case. I am here to help.