Were You Charged with California Crime Burglary Under Penal Code 459?

Burglary is an extremely serious crime in California.  If you are found guilty of committing burglary, you could face thousands of dollars in fines and up to six years in prison.  Depending on the situation, you also risk receiving a felony record, which can have negative consequences far outlasting the prison sentence ordered by the court.  If you have been accused of burglary in California, you need to take action immediately.

If you or one of your family members was arrested for burglary in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, it is crucial that you are represented by a highly skilled and experienced Santa Barbara burglary lawyer.  At The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, our dedicated defense attorneys bring over 22 years of experience to every case we handle.

As innovative, aggressive criminal lawyers serving Ventura County and Santa Barbara County, we make it our mission to resolve each case in a way that minimizes the negative consequences for the defendant.  We will carefully review every detail of your legal situation, including the circumstances surrounding your arrest and detention, to develop a strategy designed to protect your rights while challenging the allegations against you.  Depending on the situation, it may even be possible to have the charges dropped, or to have the case dismissed outright.
Call our law offices right away at (805) 643-5555 to set up a free legal consultation.  We will keep your information confidential.

Reasons You Can Get Arrested for Burglary in Santa Barbara

It’s very important for defendants and their loved ones to be aware that burglary is not the same as theft or robbery, though the terms are often used as though they were synonymous.  When it comes to criminal charges, each has a very specific meaning and carries a different set of potential penalties.
A defendant is charged with burglary in California under Cal. Penal Code § 459 when he or she allegedly “enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store [or other structure]… with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony” while on or inside the property.  To phrase it another way, you can be charged with burglary for going into a structure or property for the purpose of:

  • Stealing property valued above $950 (grand larceny/grand theft).
  • Stealing property valued at or below $950 (petit larceny/petty theft).
  • Committing any type of felony, such as:
    • Kidnapping
    • Murder
    • Rape

By comparison, robbery is charged only in situations where the defendant allegedly took the victim’s property directly from the person, or in the person’s presence, “by means of force or fear.”  Theft is a very broad offense which does not necessarily involve entering a building, using force, or even taking a tangible object – for instance, identity theft.

Possession of Burglar’s Tools

A person who has been charged with burglary may also be charged with the separate but related offense of possession of burglary tools under Cal. Penal Code § 466.  Under this statute, possessing any “picklock, crow, keybit, crowbar, screwdriver, vise grip pliers, water-pump pliers, slidehammer, slim jim, tension bar, lock pick gun, tubular lock pick, bump key, floor-safe door puller, master key,” or other devices used “with intent feloniously to break or enter into any [property],” is a misdemeanor offense.

Criminal Penalties Under California Penal Code § 461 if You Are Convicted

There are three types of criminal offenses in California: lesser offenses called misdemeanors, very serious offenses called felonies, and offenses that can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, which are called “wobblers.”  Burglary is a wobbler offense.
While felonies carry the harshest penalties, misdemeanors are also capable of resulting in costly fines and many months of incarceration.  Moreover, a conviction of any nature will result in a criminal record, which, unfortunately, can pose major obstacles to matters like employment and housing, even with the many state and federal laws designed to prevent discrimination against former offenders.
The criminal penalties for burglary are not contained under Cal. Penal Code § 459, which only serves to define the offense.  Instead, they are listed separately under Cal. Penal Code § 461, which provides the following sentences for defendants convicted of burglary in California:

  • Second Degree Burglary
    • Sentencing – Up to 1 year in jail
    • Fines – Up to $1,000
  • First Degree Burglary 
    • Sentencing – 2, 4, or 6 years in prison
    • Fines – Up to $10,000

Under Cal. Penal Code § 460(a), burglary is a crime of the first degree when committed in any inhabited house, building, or vessel.  If people normally live in or occupy the structure, the structure is considered to be “inhabited” even if no one was present at the time of the alleged offense.  Otherwise, burglary is a second degree crime under Cal. Penal Code § 460(b).
In addition to being fined and sentenced for the act of burglary, the defendant may also receive penalties for possession of burglar’s tools, a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.

Contact Our Ventura County Burglary Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation

Call the experienced Ventura County burglary attorneys of Bamieh & De Smeth at (805) 643-5555 as soon as possible if you or a loved one has been charged with this offense in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County.  We are here to help assess your legal situation and the possible defense options that may be open to you.

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