MENU

Riverside:

(951) 667-5293

Orange County:

(714) 758-5293

who you hire can make all the difference

Mr. Donath has spent his entire career defending people and standing up for the rights of the accused.

request a free consultation
  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

  • a true passion for defending the accused

    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

Request Consultation

request a free confidential consultation

*all fields are required

Riverside Burglary Lawyer

California burglary charges may carry serious consequences for those found guilty; however, our award-winning Riverside criminal defense lawyer will pour over your case specifics and engineer a strong case in your defense.

Contents

I Have Been Arrested for Burglary. Now What?

If you are arrested for burglary it is important to keep a level head. First, you should never answer any questions about the incident without legal representation present. Police officers and prosecuting attorneys are trained to coax information out of you in tricky ways. You may offer information that incriminates you without even realizing it. For that reason, you should remain silent until your lawyer arrives.

At the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC, we believe it is important to keep our clients informed every step of the process. That being said, every single case is unique, and it is impossible to make an exhaustive list of defense tactics our Riverside burglary lawyers use to defend our clients. However, there are a few common approaches we can use to get your charges reduced or dismissed:

  • Association. You may have been present when the burglary occurred, but you did not enter or have the intent to commit the felony. In other words, you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Intent. To make a burglary conviction stick, the prosecution must prove that you entered a structure with the intent to commit a felony. If you believe you did not intend to commit a felony until after you entered the structure, the burglary did not occur.
  • Belief. You entered a structure because you believed you had permission to, and you took items that you either believed were yours or had permission to take.

What is a Burglary Charge in California? – CA Penal Code 459

Burglary, robbery, and theft are confusing crimes- but ones your Riverside burglary lawyer should have a clear understanding of. They seem very similar, but under California law, they are discrete and complex incidents. In California, burglary is akin to the term “breaking and entering.” You may be charged with burglary if the prosecution deems you were entering a structure or automobile with the intent of committing a felony once inside. Here are some examples of how you may commit burglary:

  • You break into a house to steal electronics or jewelry.
  • You enter someone’s open garage to steal equipment.
  • You go into a bank to fraudulently cash a check.
  • You break a car window to steal electronics or other items.

It is important to note that in the state of California, you do not have to forcibly gain entry to commit burglary. Walking into an unlocked house to take items that are not yours is still considered burglary.

These incidents may be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. Depending on the extent and location of the burglary, it may be charged as a first degree or second-degree crime. Here are the general guidelines:

  • First degree felonies are also known as residential burglaries. When you enter any dwelling where people live (such as a house, hotel room, or apartment) with the intent of committing a felony, you will be subject to this charge. Residential burglaries carry a maximum sentence of up to six years in prison.
  • Second degree burglaries are also known as commercial burglaries. This refers to any instance where you gain entry to a place where people do not live, like a business or store. A commercial burglary is known as a “wobbler,” which means it may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. It is up to the discretion of the prosecution’s office, who will consider your criminal history or other circumstances. You may be sentenced to 1-3 years in jail. 

Further Breaking Down Burglary: CA Penal Code 459

The legal definition of burglary under Penal Code 459 has three main points that must be present:

  • The defendant entered a locked vehicle or structure, a building, or a room within a building.
  • When the defendant entered that location, he or she intended to commit either theft or a felony as defined by California law.
  • One or more of the following is true, the value the defendant stole or intended to steal was greater than $950, the structure was not a commercial establishment, or if it was a commercial establishment it was outside of business hours.

It is important to note that the prosecution may charge and convict you of burglary even if you were not able to complete the theft or felony. If there is evidence that you intended the burglary, the courts may still hold you accountable. Understanding California Penal Code 459 may help you cooperate with your attorney to establish your defense to a charge of burglary.

First and Second-Degree Burglary

If the burglary took place at a residence, the police will likely charge you with first-degree burglary. First-degree burglary is a felony and carries a potential sentence to a state prison for two, four, or six years.

A second-degree burglary is one which takes place at a commercial location, briefly mentioned earlier. It may be a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony conviction of second-degree burglary carries a potential sentence in county jail of 16 months, two years, or three years. A misdemeanor conviction may result in a sentence of up to one year in county jail.

In addition, courts may impose fines of up to $10,000 on conviction of a felony in either first-degree or second-degree burglary. Courts may impose fines of up to $1,000 on a second-degree misdemeanor conviction.

Aggravating Factors

The courts may add additional years may to sentences in certain aggravating circumstances. The use of certain torches or explosives, or if the defendant inflicted great bodily injury on another, may result in three to seven years added to sentences. Also, if the assailant knowingly committed the burglary against certain people, including those over the age of 65 or under 14 or if the victim was blind, deaf, mentally disabled, or paralyzed, courts may add an additional one to two years to the sentence. If a person was in the residence when he or she committed the burglary, courts will add an additional three-year state prison term for each California violent felony already on the defendant’s record.

Defenses Against Burglary Convictions

The prosecution must prove intent in any burglary conviction. When defendants believe the item was theirs to take or that they had permission to take the item, then intent may be difficult to establish. Also, if the defendant believed he or she had permission to be in the residence, then it may be difficult to establish intent. In the event that the defendant is entirely innocent, such as in the case of a mistaken identity, the defendant’s attorney may demonstrate that the defendant was at another location at the time of the burglary or that someone else was actually responsible for the burglary. Understanding California Penal Code 459 may help you cooperate with your attorney to establish your defense to a charge of burglary. If you are 

Hire an Unmatched Riverside Burglary Attorney

The key to securing the best outcome possible is to obtain the services of Riverside burglary lawyers who will defend you tirelessly. If you are ready for an initial consultation, do not hesitate to contact our office.