Commercial Burglary

Burglary – Penal Code Section 459 states - every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary.  As used in this chapter, "inhabited" means currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not.  A house, trailer, vessel designed for habitation, or portion of a building is currently being used for dwelling purposes if, at the time of the burglary, it was not occupied solely because a natural or other disaster caused the occupants to leave the premises.

Burglary in short, is the crime of entering a building with the intent to commit theft or any felony. When a person enters the home of another with the intent to steal or commit a felony, he/she is guilty of first degree burglary. The prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to steal something or commit any felony at the moment of entry into the building. The terminology of “breaking and entering” is satisfied merely with entry of the building and force or breaking something is not necessary.

In California, a First Degree Residential Burglary is always a felony and a “Strike.” This usually happens when burglary is alleged to have been committed in an inhabited dwelling (a home where people are present during the burglary.) This carries a punishment of 2 years, 4 years or 6 years in state prison. Generally however, first time offenders will likely do less then 1 year in county jail when represented by an attorney who knows the local courts in Los Angeles County or in Orange County. It might also be possible to get probation and serve minimal time in local county jail.

All other types of burglary, including shoplifting, are considered to be in the second degree. This is burglary that does not take place in someone’s home. This is commonly called commercial burglary and can be charged as a MISDEMEANOR or a FELONY.

Intent is the main issue in a burglary case thus if a person did not have the intent to steal at the time of entering into a structure other than someone’s home but stole something, then he/she can not be charged with commercial burglary but might be charged with a theft crime such at petty theft or grand theft depending on the value of the items that were stolen.

With the right attorney a person accused of burglary, commercial burglary or petty theft can end up getting probation, community service, house arrest or some type of work release program in lieu of jail.

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