First- and second-degree charges are very similar to one another. They are primarily different because first-degree burglary involves entering a residence while second-degree burglary involves entering a business.
First-degree burglary is always treated as a felony in California. The court treats second-degree burglary as a “wobbler.” Learn more about burglary charges by calling (310) 997-4688 to reach out to the Simmrin Law Group.
A Closer Look at the Differences Between First- and Second-Degree Burglary
The court system in California uses Penal Code §459 to prosecute both first- and second-degree burglary. Both of these charges occur if someone:
- Enters a building, room, or locked vehicle
- While intending to commit a felony or petty theft
However, there are differences between first- and second-degree burglary, as well. First-degree burglary:
- Only occurs if someone enters a residence
- Is always considered a felony
- Leads to harsher penalties in court
Second-degree burglary on the other hand:
- Only occurs if someone enters a business
- Is sometimes a misdemeanor and sometimes a felony
- Leads to less severe penalties in court
Both first- and second-degree burglary are crimes of intent in California. This means that individuals can face a conviction even if they do not commit a felony or petty theft. Just planning to commit a crime is enough to face a burglary conviction.
First-Degree Burglary Is More Serious than Second-Degree Burglary
First-degree burglary is always considered a felony in the state of California. This makes the charge more serious than second-degree burglary. The court sometimes treats second-degree burglary as a misdemeanor.
The penalties for first-degree burglary can include:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Prison time of up to six years
Second-degree burglary leads to less serious penalties. Individuals who face a felony charge for second-degree burglary can end up sentenced to:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Jail time of up to three years
Misdemeanor charges for second-degree burglary may only lead to one year of jail time and fines of up to $1,000. As you can see, there are major differences in the way the court system punishes first- and second-degree burglary.
Find out more about the results of a burglary conviction with the Simmrin Law Group. You can reach our team if you call (310) 997-4688. Get answers from our burglary lawyers in Los Angeles right now.
How the “Three-Strike System” Works in California
First-degree burglary can count as a “strike” in California. Our state adopted a “three-strike” system for some felony charges. Individuals face additional penalties if they have strikes on their record and face additional criminal charges.
Second-degree burglary convictions do not count as a strike. This means that they are less serious than a first-degree burglary accusation.
Comparing Locations for First- and Second-Degree Burglary
First-degree burglary is also called residential burglary. This is because it involves entering a residence. Any inhabited structure is considered a residence in California. This includes:
- Hotel or motel rooms
- Single-family homes or apartments
- Boats or floating homes
These are only examples of some inhabited structures here in Los Angeles. This is not a comprehensive list of dwellings where someone can live.
Second-degree burglary is different because it involves entry into a commercial structure. Individuals should only face second-degree burglary charges if they enter a business outside of business hours. First- and second-degree burglary charges apply even if someone enters a building that was unlocked.
Defenses Against First- and Second-Degree Burglary Charges
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help if you are accused of either first- or second-degree burglary. In many cases, the same kinds of defenses work for both charges. For example, a lawyer can take steps to show that:
- You took items that belonged to you
- You were falsely accused of burglary
- You did not plan to commit theft or a felony
However, your legal defense may vary in some cases. For example, a lawyer may work to show that you entered a residential structure that was uninhabited. In this situation, you would not face a first-degree burglary conviction.
Additionally, a lawyer could work to show that you entered a business during its normal hours of operation. You should not face burglary charges in this case, though you could face charges for shoplifting. Find out more about your unique situation with our team.
We Can Help You Fight First- and Second-Degree Burglary Charges
There are several differences between first- and second-degree burglary. The team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you review these differences carefully. Reach out to our burglary lawyers in Los Angeles today. We’ll offer you a free consultation. Get the legal help you want now by calling (310) 997-4688 or filling out our online contact form.