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Breaking And Entering

Breaking and Entering Attorney in Santa Barbara

The city of Santa Barbara is known for its beautiful views, college campuses, and lavish homes. The area is filled with wealthy families and college students that may not be as well off as surrounding neighbors. Some homes are occupied full time, some are rentals, and some are vacation homes that remain empty for elongated periods of time. This makes Santa Barbara an ideal target for burglary.

Under California Penal Code 459, “breaking and entering” commonly referred to as burglary, is a felony. Burglary is the entering of another’s residential or commercial dwelling with intent to commit theft or a felony. Although this crime is commonly referred to as breaking and entering, forced entry, or breaking, these actions are no longer necessary for you to be convicted of burglary in California.

If you have been arrested for “breaking and entering”, it does not mean that you are guilty. It’s important to vigorously fight a “breaking and entering” charge because a criminal conviction will stay on your record and can adversely affect job and educational opportunities down the road.

As a former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and his legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case.

 What is Breaking and Entering? 

“Breaking and entering” refers to the common law (non-statutory) crime of burglary, which consists of the breaking (forced) and entering the dwelling of another with the intent to commit a felony inside. The following examples could result in burglary charges:

  • Breaking a car window in order to steal money or items inside;
  • Walking into another persons house to steal food or other items (this can be considered breaking and entering even if the doors were left unlocked or open);
  • Entering a private office in order to commit a violent felony offense; or
  • Entering a closed bank to commit robbery.

Modern-day statutes have changed a number of the aspects of the old common law of burglary. For example, in California, Burglary (Penal Code section 459) is defined as: any person who enters a building or structure with the intent to commit a theft or a felony. The elements of a modern-day burglary include:

In the old common law, burglary required an actual breaking into the building or structure. However, today there is no requirement of an actual breaking into the structure or building.

Just the mere presence of an intruder on the premises is sufficient as long as the intruder’s presence was unlawful. The opening of a door or window of a dwelling is considered a “breaking” even if the door or window was unlocked or slightly open.

The California law also states that constructive breaking such as by fraud, threats, or misrepresentations are also considered a breaking.

In order to be convicted of burglary in California, the prosecution must prove that the defendant:

  • “Entered” a building or premise either partially or completely; AND
  • Did so with the intent to commit theft or a felony

It is not necessary for the defendant to have “broken” into the premises nor for the defendant to have successfully completed or fully carried out the theft or felony so long as the intent can be proven.

First-degree burglary is always a felony in the state of California. Penalties for a first-degree burglary conviction are:

  • a two, four, or six-year sentence in a state prison; and
  • a “strike” on the defendant’s record.

Under California’s Three Strikes Law, if you receive a strike for a felony conviction, such as burglary and you are convicted of a second felony, the prison sentence for the second felony will be doubled. A third strike (a third felony conviction) will result in a life sentence.

Second-degree burglary is a “wobbler” charge in Santa Barbara, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the details of the case including the value of stolen items.

The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor second-degree burglary conviction is:

  • one year in county jail; and
  • a fine of $1,000

Penalties for a felony second-degree burglary conviction are:

  • a 16-month, two-year, or three-year sentence in a state prison

It is possible to have a felony second-degree burglary charge reduced to a misdemeanor, specifically if the total value of stolen goods totals less than $950.

If you were forced or threatened to break and enter the dwelling or vehicle, you should not be convicted of this crime.

If you are facing a charge of felony breaking and entering, Santa Barbara County defense attorney Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, P.C. knows the law and the best strategies for your defense. We have extensive experience representing clients throughout the Santa Maria area and want to help you understand the charges you are facing as well as what your rights are under the law. 

If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your case, call (805) 749-5670 or fill out this contact form.

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