Skip to Content
When Your Future is On the Line, We're Here to Help
Montecito Breaking And Entering

Montecito Breaking and Entering Defense Attorney

The city of Montecito is known for its luxury and effortless chic vibe. It’s a city to walk among the stars, live a life of leisure, and learn a few things about what makes Santa Barbara so special with a getaway (or two) in this tucked-away seaside haven. A city with extreme wealth can also be a big target for “breaking and entering”.

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.

Breaking and Entering & Burglary

Historically, burglary was defined as breaking and entering into a home at night with the intent to commit a felony inside. Today, states have done away with many of these requirements and broadened the definition of burglary. In California, a person commits burglary by entering into any building, room, store, vehicle, shipping container, or mine without permission and with the intent to commit theft or a felony inside.

For example, a person who goes into someone else’s apartment in order to steal a laptop has committed burglary. 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.


There is no requirement of forced entry into the building or structure as long as, at the time of the entry, the intruder intends to commit a theft or felony. Any portion of the intruder inside the structure, even momentarily, is enough to constitute entry. Even the use of a tool to gain entry is sufficient if it is to commit the theft, felony, or to gain entry.


The suspect entering the structure or building must have intent to commit a theft or felony upon entering. There does not have to be an actual theft or felony, only the intent to commit one.


The old common law required that the burglary be the dwelling or house of another. Burglary today is not limited to the dwelling of another. In fact, burglary today includes structures such as stores, warehouses, tents, house boats, hotel rooms, railroad cars, trailer coaches, locked vehicles’, and aircrafts.

Breaking and Entering Penalties

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.



Although there are some penal codes that cannot be expunged, PC 459 is not one of them. Contact our firm today to obtain a free case evaluation and find out whether you are eligible for an expungement.


Burglary and robbery both often involve theft, but there are several differences between the two crimes. Burglary involves the unlawful entry into a structure whereas robbery does not. Robbery involves the use of force or fear upon another person to obtain property whereas burglary does not. Both crimes carry varying penalties upon conviction depending on the circumstances of the crime. 


You must have the intent to commit a theft or felony before or while you enter someone else’s dwelling. If your intent was to “snoop around”, then you may have a plausible defense to a burglary charge. However, you could be convicted of the crime of trespassing on private property. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

Breaking and Entering Defense Attorneys in Montecito

Don’t wait to contact Sanford Horowitz to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Continue Reading Read Less

Fighting a Breaking and Entering Charge

A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to raise several legal defenses to PC 459. Some of these defenses might include:


You have an alibi to show that you are not the person that the prosecution claims committed the burglary.


If the owner of the premises consented to the defendant’s presence on the property, it might serve as a defense.


Similarly, if a person grants authority to the defendant, it might serve as a defense against criminal charges. On the other hand, the liability may shift to a different party such as a security guard or front desk operator.

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.

Continue Reading Read Less

The Right Firm Makes a Difference

Why Clients Choose Us
  • Aggressive & Compassionate Representation
    You are our number one priority in and out of the courtroom.
  • Former Prosecutor on Your Team

    Work with an experienced former prosecutor who knows both sides.

  • Providing Service in Spanish
    Criminal defense provided by a Spanish-speaking team.
  • Offering 100% Free Consults
    Talk through all of your legal options during a free consultation.

What Clients Are Saying

  • A former prosecutor, Sandy is a skilled litigator who understands both sides of the criminal justice system, which is a tremendous asset. While we hope never to be in a similar situation again, we can recommend Sandy without hesitation.
    - Ann S.
  • A great relief and reassurance to anyone potentially facing criminal charges.
    - S.A.
  • To say that Horowitz is a great lawyer is an understatement. I would highly recommend him to anyone dealing with a legal issue.
    - Haley S.
  • In addition to being highly intelligent and professional, he is incredibly empathetic and kind, which helps when dealing with life’s unpleasant situations.
    - Eli S.