A burglary occurs when someone enters a building, either a commercial building like a mall, or a residential building like a house or apartment, with the intent to commit a theft or a felony inside. The person must have the intent to commit the theft or felony before entering the premises.
A commercial burglary is a “wobbler” offense. This means that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. If a commercial burglary results in a theft of less than $950 it is a misdemeanor. If the loss is more than $950 if may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Punishment for a misdemeanor commercial burglary can be up to one year in county jail. Punishment for a felony commercial burglary can be up to 3 years in county jail.
A residential burglary is always considered a “serious” or “violent” felony and is a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. It is uncommon that probation is granted in residential burglary cases. Residential burglary is punishable by a state prison sentence of up to six years.
Defenses to Burglary Charges
The strongest defense to a burglary charge is showing that the Defendant did not have the intent to steal or commit a felony before he entered a home or building. While he may have committed a theft or felony once inside, if he did not have this intent before entering there is no burglary.
It is critical to remember that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant had the required intent. It is not the Defendant’s burden to prove that he did not have the intent.
Burglary Defense Attorneys in the San Fernando Valley
The legal team at the Law Offices of Schwartz & Weinrieb has over 80 years of combined experience aggressively defending clients facing all misdemeanor and felony commercial and residential burglary charges, and will strategize a vigorous defense from the moment of arrest until the completion of the case.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any theft charge, contact a Van Nuys criminal attorney from Schwartz & Weinrieb today at (818) 888-2711.