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Santa Barbara Burglary Defense Lawyers

Defending Against Burglary Charges in California

Burglary is a specific way to commit theft. It involves entering another’s property without permission with the intent of taking someone else's property. Because there are clear requirements with regard to intent and setting for a burglary charge, defending against such a charge demands an understanding of California law.

What Is Burglary?

In California, the term "burglary" refers to a form of theft in which someone enters a property without permission with the intent to commit a crime on those premises. What constitutes another person's property can be open to interpretation, but usually includes places like houses, apartments, businesses, and residential rooms in dormitories. Even locations like tents can be considered "a property" for the purposes of a burglary charge.

Are There Different Degrees of Burglary?

There are two different degrees of burglary in California: first and second degree. Which one is charged against a person typically depends on whether or not the property was inhabited at the time of the alleged burglary.

  • First-Degree Burglary: In California, this is defined as a burglary that occurs at an inhabited dwelling. This does not strictly mean that someone was at the location when the burglary occurred, but instead that the location is designed for habitation and used as a dwelling. Houses, apartments, and similar locations are considered dwellings, so if someone owns it and uses it as a living space, then you’re looking at a first-degree burglary charge. This is a felony and can result in up to six years in county jail or state prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Second-Degree Burglary: Any burglary that occurs at a location not designed as a dwelling or not owned for use as a habitation is considered second degree. This covers commercial locations and businesses, including retail stores and offices. Second-degree burglary can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of property taken and the nature of the case, with punishments of one year up to three years in county jail or state prison.

What Kind of Defense Might I Have Against a Burglary Charge?

There are two major components to a burglary charge in California that must be proven by the prosecution: that the property was entered illegally, and that the defendant intended to commit a crime. Disproving either one can make the charge insubstantial, so a defense is usually built around attacking one of those components. For example: demonstrating the defendant had permission to enter the property, that there was a clear lack of intent to commit a crime, or that the defendant was not at the location in question.

At NordstrandBlack PC, we are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to defending our clients against burglary charges. Do not try to defend yourself; call our Santa Barbara theft defense lawyers today at (805) 962-2022 and tell us about your case. Once we know the specific details of your situation, we can explain your options and move forward with building a defense for you.

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