SANTA YNEZ Criminal Defense Attorney-
Breaking and Entering – Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, P.C.
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 459: BREAKING AND ENTERING DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Throw on your cowboy boots and saddle up for a breathtaking and memorable horseback ride through the vineyards and hills. The city of Santa Ynez is a sophisticated cowboy town, however, crime still occurs. The heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country is surrounded by rolling hills and offers much more privacy to it’s residents than the city. A quiet life sounds amazing, however it does 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
Although breaking and entering isn’t its own crime in Santa Ynez, understanding what is meant by “breaking” and “entering” can help to explain the actual laws that it typically refers to, specifically burglary and trespassing.
“Breaking” refers to gaining entry into a structure with the use of force or fraud. Although “breaking” used to be a requirement of a burglary conviction in Lompoc, it was eliminated in the 1800s and you can now be convicted of burglary without breaking into a structure in order to commit theft or another felony.
“Entering” refers to entry into a building or structure with any part of your body or another object, whether or not you enter completely or directly. For example, reaching inside a building with the use of a tool is considered “entering” because the outer boundary of the building has been crossed, even if your body still remains on the outside of the building. It is a crime to possess lock picks, crowbars, screwdrivers, master keys, spark plug pieces, or any other tool or instrument with the intent to break into a building or vehicle.
You do not need to enter a home or a business in order to be guilty of breaking and entering. This is a common misconception, as we tend to associate breaking and entering with entry into a home or a business complex. However, in these cases, courts define the term “building” very broadly, allowing for the inclusion of structures such as storage units, loading docks, and even phone booths. Auto burglary is unique in that the car must be locked in order for the defendant to be guilty of the crime. However, this is not true of any other building or “premises.” The following examples could result in burglary charges:
- Breaking a car window in order to steal money inside;
- Walking into another’s 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
- Breaking into a storage unit in order to commit theft.
- Entering a closed bank to commit robbery.
Burglary and robbery both often involve theft, but there are several differences between the two crimes. Burglary involves 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.
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; AN
- 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 California, 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 the 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, especially if the total value of the stolen good totals less than $950.
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 did not intend to commit theft or any felony crime before you entered the dwelling or vehicle.
If there is a weakness or inconsistency in the evidence presented by the prosecution, your attorney may be able to challenge its validity.
DURESS OR THREATS
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 Ynez 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 805-452-7214 or fill out this contact form.
BREAKING AND ENTERING FAQ
I HAVE A CONVICTION FOR PC 459 ON MY CRIMINAL RECORD. IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE IT EXPUNGED?
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.
CAN I BE CHARGED WITH BREAKING AND ENTERING IF I CLIMB UP TO SOMEONE’S BALCONY BUT CAN’T GET INSIDE?
Yes. Balconies that are both attached on the second floor or higher, and designed to be accessed only from inside an apartment or home qualifies as the building’s outer boundary. Thus, if you climb onto someone’s balcony intending to steal or commit any felony, you’ve entered the dwelling and can be charged with breaking and entering.
WHAT IF I ONLY INTENDED TO SNOOP AROUND WHEN I ENTERED SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY, BUT HAD NO INTENTION OF TAKING ANYTHING UNTIL I GOT THERE?
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 SANTA YNEZ
Don’t wait to contact Sanford Horowitz to ensure that your legal rights are protected.