California’s laws surrounding the act of burglary can be challenging to understand. Many people do not realize the severity of this property crime. In fact, you can be charged under California Penal Code Section 459: Burglary even if you never steal anything.
The penalties for a violation of PC 459 can be incredibly harsh, even if nothing is stolen. You can learn more about the definition of burglary, the legal repercussions of this act, and possible legal defenses from the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group.
California Penal Code Section 459: Definition
According to the court system in California, burglary occurs anytime someone enters a home, building, or locked vehicle while intending to commit a felony or petty theft. Note that individuals may be charged with entering a building if they penetrate the structure’s outer boundary with part of their body or an object.
The court breaks acts of burglary down into two categories, depending on where they occur:
First Degree Burglary / Residential Burglary
A first-degree burglary occurs if someone enters:
- A Home
- A Hotel Room
- Any Other Residence
Residential burglary is always considered a felony by courts in Los Angeles. This charge is generally considered more severe than second-degree burglary. A conviction for first-degree burglary can lead to:
- 6 Years in Prison
- $10,000 in Fines
Second Degree Burglary / Commercial Burglary
Individuals can be charged with second-degree burglary if they enter a business building. It is essential to understand that the court defines buildings very broadly. Telephone booths may even be considered buildings under PC 459.
Commercial burglary may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the exact situation.
Note that individuals may face charges under PC 459 even if nothing is stolen and no felony is carried out. The court will consider an individual’s intent when handling burglary cases. Individuals may face the following penalties for a commercial burglary conviction:
- 1 Year in Jail
- 3 Years in Prison
California Penal Code Section 459: Similar Charges
There are a number of charges that resemble PC 459 in Los Angeles. Individuals may face charges for:
- California Penal Code Section 484(a) & 488: Petty Theft
- California Penal Code Section 487: Grand Theft
- California Penal Code Section 602: Trespassing
Any of these charges can have serious legal consequences if they are not handled properly.
California Penal Code Section 459: Enhancements
The penalties for burglary in Los Angeles can include fines and jail time. The court may enhance these penalties in the following circumstances:
An Individual Has Previous Felony Convictions
Individuals who have prior convictions on their record can face additional prison time. Each previous felony offense can add one year of time onto a burglary prison sentence.
The Victim Was Vulnerable
Vulnerable victims are offered additional protection under the law. California defines the following groups as vulnerable:
- People with Certain Disabilities
- People Under the Age of 14
- People Over the Age of 65
Individuals convicted of burglary against members of these groups may have up to 2 years or prison time added to their sentence.
Great Bodily Injury Occurred During the Burglary
An individual could have up to 6 years added to their prison sentence if someone suffers significant bodily injury.
Are You Eligible for Pretrial Diversion if Charged with a Crime Under California PC 459?
If you are charged with burglary under California PC 459, it is important to consider all your options. This often includes reviewing plea agreements and opportunities to enter a pretrial diversion program.
Pretrial diversion could be a viable option for your burglary charges if you are a first-time offender. Additionally, as long as there was no physical bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon in your case, the charges against you may be considered non-violent.
This means you may qualify for pretrial diversion. Here, if you complete the terms of the program, the charges against you can be reduced or dismissed. However, if you fail to follow the requirements of the pretrial diversion program, the state can move forward with the criminal charges against you under California Penal Code section 459: Burglary.
California Penal Code Section 459: Defenses
It is important to take any charge of burglary seriously in Los Angeles. Some defenses can work in PC 459 cases, but they typically require the help of a professional Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer may be able to argue:
You Were Falsely Accused
Innocent people may be mistakenly identified as burglars in the Los Angeles area. Additionally, you could be accused of burglary after buying goods that turned out to be stolen.
You Only Took Your Property
Sometimes, individuals enter a property to retrieve something that belongs to them. You should not be convicted under PC 459 if you were only taking your property, not the property of anyone else.
California Penal Code Section 459: Getting Help
You do not have to try to figure out California Penal Code Section 459: Burglary on your own. Getting professional help from the Simmrin Law Group can make understanding this charge easier. Learn more about your legal options if you are charged with burglary with a free consultation.
You can fill out our online contact form or call us to learn more.