The crime of burglary in Los Angeles is a real problem. It brings a lot of negative connotations — meaning people who are convicted of burglary are viewed as individuals who can't be trusted because they steal other people's properties. California Penal Code 459 defines the crime of burglary.
But also brings with it — if it's a residential burglary — a strike in California. This means you will have a felony on your record for the rest of your life. Then you put yourself in the position where you've got a strike on your record, it's a felony on your paper, you can't own, use or possess a weapon, and you can't vote.
And in addition to things that go on your record, you're also looking at a situation where you could be sent to prison for an extended period. If there's a person present when the burglary occurs, that makes the crime a violent felony which means that you would serve 85% of any time you get on the case.
So, when you're talking about burglary charges, you need to get an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible because a lot of these burglary charges can be over-filled by the prosecutors, and sometimes they're not over-filed.
Maybe the person did commit a burglary, but because of the person's lack of criminal record, their young age, and a host of other good factors — if there could be good factors in a burglary, prosecutors — can be used to try to differentiate you as a person from other individuals who commit residential burglaries and try to avoid a prison sentence and try to avoid some of the additional negative stigma and punishment that comes along with a burglary charge. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will examine this topic in more detail below.
Residential vs. Commercial Burglary in California
Now, there are multiple levels of burglary. There's a commercial burglary which would be characterized as second-degree burglary. You were walking along, and you broke into somebody's car. You take the person's stereo and other property; that's a second-degree burglary. That's not a residential burglary. That's not a strike.
It's still serious, but it's one of those situations where you can get something like that reduced down to a misdemeanor. If you do well on probation, you could call it dismissed off your record. You're not as likely to go to prison, depending on your history and other factors.
There are other scenarios where people are breaking into non-residences. The residence is the problem because once you commit burglary and go into somebody's castle, so to speak, that's when the judge and prosecutors will come down hard on you. The law and the legislature are set up to get people involved in going into other people's homes.
Of course, that's for a variety of reasons. Number one, it's hazardous when you go into someone's home. People and children are in there. People have guns in their homes, so there's a lot more likelihood of violence or death if you go into somebody else's home.
A home is a sanctuary. It's a castle, and people feel violated when another individual goes into their home, and the legislature recognizes that and punishes for that. Judges and prosecutors all have homes. They all put themselves, whether they admit it or not, into the victim's shoes in a residential burglary case.
So, if you have a first-degree residential burglary case, that brings a whole host of problems. I've already mentioned the person-present issue, but just the fact that you're going into somebody's home will create a felony on your record.
You will not be able to get the felony off your record because there's no such thing as a misdemeanor residential burglary. It's a straight felony. You'll never be able to own, use or possess a weapon. You'll never be able to vote in the United States, and there are many other problems.
That conviction will stay on your record, so anybody who does a life scan on you if you're trying to get a job is going to see that. So, when you get a burglary case, all of the marbles are on the line, so you should get in front of an attorney like me who's been doing this for twenty-five years.
We'll sit down and lay out all the facts, and let me design the plan that does damage control and does everything possible to keep you out of prison and protect those valuable rights you have — your reputation and everything you hold dear.