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Burglary & Theft Laws in California

California Penal Code § 459 and 459.5

According to the California Penal Code, burglary is any instance in which a person unlawfully enters a “home, store, car, boat, etc. with the intent to perpetrate a crime such as theft or any felony” (§ 459). The intent requirement is the reason why it is difficult to convict someone of burglary, since it can be rather challenging determine whether someone’s unlawful entry was motivated by intent steal (§ 459.5).

Shoplifting Allegations and Proving Intent

This is very useful information if you find yourself in a situation where someone is accusing you of burglary or shoplifting. If you are detained before leaving a store, the store owner will likely have troubling proving that you intended to steal the items in question. That is why store security will watch you, probably video your behavior, and detain you after you leave the store without paying for the items.

The California legislature enacted § 459.5, which applies to shoplifting. Notwithstanding § 459 (burglary), shoplifting is defined as “[entering] a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950).” Any other entry into a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny is burglary.

Consequences for Shoplifting in California

Shoplifting shall be punished as a misdemeanor, except that a person with one or more prior convictions and it may be charged as a felony. California Penal Code § 19 states that every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, by fines not exceeding $1,000, or both.

Burglary can be punished as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case at hand. Even if the court convicts you of a misdemeanor, it will negatively impact the professional, personal, academic, and financial aspects of your life. A criminal conviction of any degree can cost you your job, damage your reputation, hurt your case in family matters such as child custody, and more.

We Serve People Facing Charges of Burglary, Shoplifting, & Theft in Dublin

If you are being accused of burglary, shoplifting, or any other theft crime, call the Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse as soon as possible.

Attorney Ivan O.B. Morse is a former police officer and has valuable insight into the criminal justice system. As a result, we can provide skillful representation for people like you and we routinely help our clients achieve much better outcomes than they could have obtained alone. By coming to us as soon as possible, you increase your chances of receiving a fair hearing, reduced sentencing, or total charge dismissal, if possible.

Call our office toll-free at (888) 865-0741 to speak to our burglary and theft crimes lawyer in Dublin, or click to schedule your free case evaluation.