A San Diego man was recently arrested on suspicion of burglary after security alarms went off while he was inside of a Chula Vista home. The man may have believed that the home was the perfect target since it was in the process of being fumigated. A security alarm sounded when he entered the vacant home, which alerted local police. The man surrendered to law enforcement officers when they arrived on the scene. He was promptly arrested and may be facing criminal charges for burglary.
What is Burglary?
California, burglary is defined in Penal Code 459 PC to mean entering property with the specific intent to commit a crime inside. In order to be charged and convicted of burglary, the state must be able to prove you:
- Entered a building, room within a building, vehicle, or structure, and
- Had the intent to commit a theft or felony.
As you can see, the definition of burglary is quite broad. There is no requirement that you break into a home or building. In fact, you can face burglary charges if you are invited into the home or building. The pertinent factors are whether you (1) enter property and (2) have the intent to commit a crime once you’re inside. How you gain access is irrelevant.
This also means that whether or not the home or building is occupied at the time of the crime is irrelevant.
Burglary of Inhabited Property
While it may not matter whether anyone was present at the time of entry, the type of structure that is burglarized does. In California, the consequences for burglary are the most severe when the target is an inhabited home or structure.
Inhabited simply means that the space is “currently being used for dwelling purposes.” It does not matter whether those occupants are home at the time of the crime.
Since the property targeted by the the Chula Vista burglar was primarily used as a dwelling, he will likely face charges for First Degree Burglary.
Penalties for Burglary in California
What are the consequences for burglary in San Diego? The answer depends on:
- The type of burglary charged
- The crime committed inside the home or structure
- Whether victim(s) suffered any harm during the crime, and
- Your own criminal history.
First Degree Burglary: First degree burglary, which is also known as residential burglary, is a felony in California. Penalties can include:
- 2-6 years in a California state prison, and
- $10,000 in fines.
Second Degree Burglary: Second degree burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California.
When charged as a misdemeanor, second degree burglary is punishable by a maximum of 1 year in a San Diego jail and $1,000 in fines. When charged as a felony, second-degree burglary is punishable by a maximum of 3 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Defenses to Burglary Charges in San Diego
The state has the burden of proving that a person charged with burglary with guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants can prevent the state from proving its case by presenting a strong defense. The arguments used should help to justify or explain any allegations of criminal behavior. Potential defenses to charges of burglary in San Diego include:
- You lacked the intent to commit a crime inside the structure
- You never actually entered the property
- You mistakenly entered the property
- False accusations, and
- Mistaken identity.
The best way to fight criminal charges for burglary in San Diego is by hiring an attorney to handle your case. Contact the San Diego Criminal Law Center to request a free consultation with our skilled team of attorneys.
Our San Diego criminal defense attorneys know that your future is in jeopardy and will fight to secure the best possible outcome in your case. Our aggressive strategies often allow us to get the charges against our clients reduced or dismissed. Call today to learn more about how we can help you fight criminal charges in San Diego.