VENTURA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY - BREAKING AND ENTERING
California Penal Code 459: Breaking and Entering Defense Attorney
The city of Ventura is a beach town known for the activities, surf, and the night life. When visiting the city you will come across a variety of bars, an abundance of surfers, and a few homeless. Although Ventura County is overall considered safe, intoxicated patrons and desperate individuals make the area a 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 person’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.
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
“Breaking and entering” refers to the common law (non-statutory) crime of burglary, which consisted of the breaking (forced) and entering of the dwelling of another at night with the intent to commit a felony inside. The following examples could result in burglary charges:
- Walking into your neighbor’s garage in order to steal his lawn mower.
- Breaking a car window in order to steal a wallet that has been left on the dashboard.
- Entering a closed bank in order to rob it.
- Breaking into a storage unit in order to commit theft.
- Using a crowbar to break the window of a storage shed with the intent of committing theft.
Modern day statutes have changed a number of the aspects of the old common law of burglary. For example, in Ventura, 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:
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 a 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 theft, a 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
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.
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 refers to the entering of an inhabited structure in order to commit theft or a felony. There does not need to be anyone inside of the structure during the time that the burglary takes place. First-degree burglary is a felony charge that carries severe penalties if convicted.
Second-degree burglary refers to the entering of structures or other premises besides residences. These premises could include commercial buildings, vehicles, boats, or animal pens among many others. In California, second-degree burglary is a “wobbler” charge, which means that it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
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.
You never entered another person’s dwelling because you never crossed the structures outer boundary.
You are our number one priority in and out of the courtroom.
Work with an experienced former prosecutor who knows both sides.
Criminal defense provided by a Spanish-speaking team.
Talk through all of your legal options during a free consultation.
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.