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What is a Burglary in California? (Penal Code 459)


What is Burglary in California?

Burglary is a violation of Penal Code, § 459.

To prove a burglary the prosecution must show that:

1. The defendant entered a building, a room within a building, a locked vehicle or a locked non-residential structure.

2. At the time the defendant entered intended to steal something (commit a theft) or commit a felony.

The crime gets complicated depending upon whether the value of the property taken or intended to be taken was more than $950.00 or whether the structure that the defendant entered was a non-commercial establishment. Other factors are whether the defendant entered a non-commercial establishment during non-business hours.

The key factor in many burglary cases is the intent upon entering. If someone enters a supermarket and then steals, that not a potential burglary unless the person had the intent to steal before entering. Shoplifting is more easily charged than burglary.

If one enters a house to rape or murder that is a burglary even if the person leaves without committing any other crime. A burglary can take place if your hand enters a home, you try to unlock the door from inside, fail and then leave!

If you are facing burglary charges, our criminal defense attorneys can help navigate the complicated legal and factual issues and seek a dismissal or reasonable resolution.