Burglary is a serious crime that is harshly punished. If you are facing these charges, you should immediately obtain an Orange County burglary lawyer with the skills and resources to help fight for your rights. It is important to be proactive in your defense to help avoid a conviction and substantial penalties.

Our top-rated team of criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Scott D. Henry have decades of experience representing clients charged with this crime. We have in-depth knowledge of how these cases are prosecuted, which helps us build strong and effective defense strategies for our clients.

What is Burglary?

California Penal Code 459 PC defines burglary as entering a residential or commercial structure, or locked vehicle with the intent to commit theft or any other felony. It is important to note that this crime is committed once the perpetrator enters the structure, regardless of whether the intended theft or felony was committed.

In California, there is first-degree and second-degree burglary. A first-degree offense happens when someone enters a residence unlawfully whereas a second-degree offense occurs when someone illegally enters a structure, including stores, businesses, and vehicles. Additionally, the prosecutor must prove three key elements to obtain a burglary conviction. These are:

  • The defendant must have entered a residential or commercial structure or a locked vehicle.
  • The defendant had the intent to commit a theft or a felony offense once inside.
  • The defendant stole or intended to steal property valued over $950 or the structure was not a commercial establishment, or the structure was a commercial establishment, but the defendant entered outside of the normal business hours.

It is important to note that someone is only guilty of this offense if they intended to commit a theft or other felony when they entered the structure. A skilled attorney in Orange County could assess a burglary case and determine what the best course of action is based on an individual’s charges.

Penalties for Burglary in Orange County

First-degree burglary is a felony. If you are convicted of this offense, you may receive a sentence of two, four, or six years in prison. It is also considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. In addition to jail or prison time, you may also receive penalties such as:

  • Felony Probation
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Rehabilitation programs

The penalty for second-degree burglary varies because it is considered a “wobbler.” This means it can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. For a felony second-degree burglary conviction, the penalty is 16 months, two, or three years in jail. You may also receive additional penalties, such as felony probation and fines up to $10,000. For a misdemeanor second-degree conviction, the penalty is up to one year in jail. Penalties also may include misdemeanor probation and fines up to $1,000.

What is the Difference Between Shoplifting and Burglary?

California Penal Code 459.5 PC defines shoplifting as someone entering a commercial establishment when it is open with the intent to steal property worth less than $950. Shoplifting is usually considered petty theft, but this crime can become burglary when there is proven intent to commit the offense before entering the establishment. Intent can be difficult for prosecutors to prove. Our lawyers in the area could help avoid a burglary conviction by disproving intent.

Potential Legal Defenses

There are several effective legal defenses an attorney in Orange County may use when building a burglary case. One of the most common defenses to this crime is a lack of intent. The prosecution must prove intent to get a conviction. They also must prove there was intent while the defendant was entering the structure. If the defendant formed the intent after entering, they cannot be found guilty of burglary.

Another potential defense is intoxication. If the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the offense, an attorney may argue the intoxication rendered the individual unable to have the intent needed for a burglary conviction. Other potential defenses include:

  • Illegal search and seizure by law enforcement
  • Mistaken identity
  • Consent by the Property owner

Speak with an Orange County Burglary Attorney Today

If you are facing these charges, you should seek the assistance of an Orange County burglary attorney immediately. Our team of skilled lawyers at the Law Office of Scott D. Henry understand what is at stake. We could help you fight these charges by thoroughly researching the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense to find any gaps, loopholes, or evidence that helps support your innocence. When facing these charges, it is essential to be proactive. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

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