Burglary Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
If you have been arrested for burglary, you should be aware that California law treats the offense seriously. You could, depending on the specifics of your case, be facing a felony charge. First degree burglary is always a felony, and second degree burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Even a misdemeanor conviction can lead to a year in jail. Therefore, whatever the specific allegations of your case might be, you need to understand that the charge needs to be handled properly by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
How is Burglary Defined in California?
The offense of burglary is defined in PC 459. Briefly stated, burglary is the entry into a building (or other structure or vehicle) with the intent to commit theft or any felony. Note that burglary does not include minor shoplifting (see below). But it does include entry (with intent to steal or commit a felony) into not only a home, but also a mobile home, a railroad car, a boat, an airplane, a mine, and the list goes on. Whatever the circumstances of the entry are, the prosecution must prove an intent to commit either larceny or a felony.
Burglary vs. Shoplifting
With regard to shoplifting, PC 459.5 contains specific provisions which not only distinguish it from burglary, but which also prohibit simple shoplifting from being charged as burglary. Specifically, entry into a store or other commercial place of business during regular business hours is a misdemeanor, except in cases where your have a prior conviction for a serious violent felony, or for an offense requiring registration as a sex offender. We should emphasize that entering a retail store outside of regular business hours, without permission from the proprietor, will likely result in being charged with burglary.
Defending Burglary Charges in California
If you are facing a burglary charge in the Los Angeles area, your first step should be to contact an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. That means your attorney should be completely familiar with the criminal justice system in Los Angeles, including the courts, the judges, and the applicable procedures. You also want your lawyer to be able to spot any possible defenses on your behalf, and to take the steps necessary to develop them. Finally, remember that each element of the offense, including intent to steal or commit a felony, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some defenses to a burglary charge, which may be applicable in your case, are:
- Lack of intent. Intent is a necessary element of a burglary charge. Obviously, that must involve an examination of the surrounding circumstances. If you had no burglary tools with you, or you had reason to believe a store you entered was open for business, or you had no weapon, these are facts that can be used to develop a defense to the element of intent. At CBS Law, we will utilize whatever facts are available to counter these allegations.
- Consent. If you had permission to enter the structure, there was no unauthorized entry. Even if you mistakenly believed you had permission, this should be sufficient to rebut the allegations of a burglary charge.
- Mistaken Identity. Assuming you were arrested and charged after the fact, your arrest may be the result of mistaken identity. Eyewitness identification is notoriously suspect and has led over the years to countless wrongful convictions.
Other defenses may also apply, depending on the facts of your case.
Los Angeles Burglary Defense Lawyer
Burglary is obviously a serious offense, most often charged as a felony. Even a misdemeanor burglary charge could result in a sentence of a year in jail. If it is a felony charge, you can expect a sentence, perhaps lengthy, in state prison.
Given the seriousness of the charge, as well as the severe consequences of a conviction, you need to do everything you can to protect your rights and seek a dismissal, a reduction in the charge (to shoplifting, or another less severe charge), or a not guilty verdict. Your best course is to obtain the services of an experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyer.
At CBS Law, we have been practicing criminal defense law for years, and protecting clients charged with serious criminal offenses. If you are facing a burglary charge, or any other criminal charge, Chris Bou Saeed will use his experience and expertise to fight for your rights so that you obtain the best result possible when charged with burglary or any other crime. Call CBS Law at (213) 800-8005