Burglary is defined as when a person enters any house, dwelling, vessel, or other structure with the intent to commit larceny or any felony inside. It is not necessarily an element of the offense that a person break and enter. Simply walking into a building with the intent to commit a felony can be enough. It is also not necessary that a person intend to steal. Not only intent to commit theft, but intent to commit a serious assault, deal drugs, or commit any other felony establishes burglary. Because burglary always involves the intent to commit another offense, a burglary charge is usually coupled with other criminal charges.
A skilled attorney is necessary to determine whether burglary charges are really appropriate in a case. Legal and factual questions exist such as what was the intent of the defendant, when did the defendant form his or her intent, and whether the structure entered is one to which the burglary laws apply. Often, District Attorneys overcharge burglary when a person is guilty of nothing more than theft.
The crime of burglary is divided into two degrees, burglary in the first degree or residential burglary, and burglary in the second degree. Of the two, first degree burglary is far more serious because it’s a felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor and it’s a strike under California’s Three Strikes law.
In California it is also a crime to possess “burglary instruments or tools.” A burglary tool can be a spark plug, lock pick, crowbar, or even a screw driver, master key or other tool. The question is whether the person possessed it with the intent to break and enter, or made it or altered it, knowing that it was intended to be used to pull off a crime.
For a free consultation about burglary or related charges, please contact us at (510) 628-0596.