State law defines burglary as any person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, building, railcar, or vehicle with the intention to commit grand or petit larceny or any other felony. Regardless of whether these places are locked or unlocked, if you enter a place unlawfully with the intent to commit theft or another felony you have committed burglary. The prosecution only has to prove that you entered any type of residential or commercial dwelling with a plan to steal in order to receive a conviction of burglary.
There are several different degrees of burglary and the severity of the punishment depends on the degree of the burglary. Burglary in the first degree is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. Burglary in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for one year.
There is also a section in the California Penal Code that addresses burglary related to safes, those who enter a building and opens or attempts to open a vault or safe by use of a device capable of burning through steel, concrete, or any other solid substance is guilty of a felony and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of three, five, or seven years.
Important Definitions Related to Burglary
In our state for 2006, there were 246,449 burglaries, 70,961 robberies, and 666, 869 thefts recorded by the State of California Department of Justice. But what does that mean? The law can be convoluted, and often requires an explanation due to the confusing terminology. Here is a breakdown of the theft crimes related to and often confused with burglary as well as their definitions:
Burglary – entering into a building illegally with the intent to commit a crime, especially theft.
Robbery – the act of taking some type of possession or money from an individual. This is usually done through force, threats, or coercion.
Theft or larceny – the unlawful taking of personal property with the intention of permanently depriving the owner.
Simply put, people are robbed, places are burgled, and things are the object of larceny or theft. Once you have identified which type of crime you have received a charge for, it is important to speak with an attorney about the possible punishments you are facing. Depending on the nature of the crime you may have multiple charges brought upon you. There are other related crimes to burglary that prosecution could attempt to convict you for in addition to the burglary charge.
For example, most burglaries result in a theft, and therefore an individual would be charged for both burglary and theft. Petty theft has a limit of $950 and below. If an individual steals the equivalent of or less than $950 worth of property he or she will be charged with petty theft or petit larceny. In addition, if the individual steals property that exceeds $950 in value then the crime is considered grand theft or grand larceny.
Related Crimes and Charges
In addition to the crimes defined above, the court may find you guilty of vandalism, forgery, and counterfeiting. Sometimes those who burgle or attempt to burgle a residential or commercial dwelling use forged or counterfeit keys or other devices that let them inside. Those individuals can expect a charge of counterfeiting or forgery along with the burglary charged. In addition, when burglars use instruments such as crow bars, screw drivers, sledge hammers etc. to break in they can be charged with damaging property. Vandalism is a serious crime, and depending on the damage done, penalties can be severe. Burglary is just the tip of the iceberg; there are many accompanying charges that can be assigned to the case.