The crime of burglary in California can essentially be broken down into 2 types of burglary, 1st degree (often referred to as residential burglary) and 2nd degree (often referred to as commercial burglary). Commercial burglary refers specifically to a burglary that occurs at a store, business, commercial property, or anywhere that a person does not actually reside. Commercial burglary is a very serious offense, and if arrested or charged with commercial burglary, it is very important to seek out the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney, who can help you navigate through the court process and obtain the best possible result for you.
Under Penal Code 459, the prosecution must be able to prove the following in order for a person to be convicted of burglary:
1) Entering a room, structure, vehicle, or building;
2) With the specific intent to commit a felony inside, or the specific intent to commit a theft crime.
It is important to note that the crime of burglary has often been referred to as "breaking and entering." Over the years, the law has evolved so that the prosecution does not need to prove that you actually entered the structure by forced entry. They must merely prove that you entered the structure. However, in the case of vehicles, a break-in must still occur.
The maximum penalties for commercial burglary are less severe than residential burglary, however, it is still a very serious crime. Commercial burglary is considered a "wobbler" offense, meaning that the prosecution can charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and nature of the case. This is different from residential burglary, which can only be charged as a felony, and carries a strike if you are convicted. If you are charged with misdemeanor commercial burglary, the maximum jail sentence that you could serve is up one (1) year in county jail. If you are charged with felony commercial burglary, the maximum sentence goes up to three (3) years in county jail.
There are several common defenses that you criminal defense attorney can explore for you. These include, but are not limited to: 1) you did not have the specific intent to commit a felony or a theft inside of the structure; 2) it is a case of mistaken identity, you did not actually commit the burglary; 3) in the case of a theft, the items you took actually belong to you; and 4) you genuinely believed that you have permission to take items from the location.
Our Victorville criminal defense attorney, Nicholas Martell, has extensive experience in representing clients charged with commercial burglary. If you are being charged with commercial burglary, call our office today for your consultation. We are currently serving Apple Valley, Adelanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville, San Bernardino, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Lancaster, Pomona, and West Covina.