Burglary (Penal Code section 459)

People often confuse the crime of burglary with other crimes, especially with the crime of robbery. That is probably because burglary makes it illegal to enter certain structures, vehicles, or other modes of transportation with the intent to carry out any felony or a misdemeanor petty theft. It is the physical entry with the intent to commit a felonious crime (or petty theft) that constitutes the crime of burglary. The crime the burglar intends to commit does not even need to be actually committed for the crime of burglary to occur. Let's say someone enters a house with the intention to murder someone but the murder is thwarted and no one is killed. While in that scenario the actual murder did not occur, the burglary did. An Orange County burglary defense lawyer can discuss the elements of your specific charge in detail.

A first degree burglary occurs whenever someone enters a structure that is inhabited. This might be a house, an apartment, an RV, a houseboat, a tent or sometimes just a separate room within a structure. Other structures may also be considered "inhabited" under this statute; all that is required is that someone is currently living in the structure. The inhabitant does not need to be there for a burglary to be charged.

It is a second degree burglary when someone enters a structure that is not currently being lived in, for example a storage shed or a business or enters a locked vehicle or other mode of transportation such as a railroad car or an airplane, with the intent to carry out a felonious crime or a petty theft.

Under certain circumstances, for example when a victim suffers great bodily injury during a burglary, the sentence for burglary can be enhanced, meaning a longer potential prison sentence.

Burglary is a serious charge. First degree burglary is always charged as a felony and is a strike under California's "Three Strikes Law." Second degree burglary may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Furthermore, someone who commits burglary will be charged with the underlying crime or, if the underlying crime is not completed, with the attempt. Anyone charged with burglary should contact an experienced burglary defense attorney in Orange County immediately.

I am an experienced criminal defense attorney with proven results and I promise to vigorously defend your rights to the full extent of the law. I have successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those charged with burglary. Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation with an Orange County burglary defense attorney without charge. I will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.


First degree burglary is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for two, four, or six years. Second degree burglary carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail and/or probation if charged as a misdemeanor or imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years if charged as a felony. Consulting a burglary defense lawyer in Orange County may help mitigate the consequences of a charge.