What Is Burglary?

Oakland law details several commercial and residential structures someone could be accused of entering unlawfully, ranging from residential homes and campers to barns and warehouses. Where the offense allegedly occurred greatly influences the charges an individual could face in California.

What’s the Difference Between First & Second-Degree Burglary in Oakland?

You could face first-or second-degree charges for burglary. This is based mainly on where the alleged offense happened. An individual that commits burglary at an inhabited dwelling is charged with first-degree burglary.

Inhabited dwellings include residential homes, trailers, places designed for habitation, or a portion of a building used for dwelling purposes. A burglary committed at any other commercial structure is charged as second-degree burglary.

How Does the Law Define a Cargo Container?

One of the many structures someone can be charged with burglarizing is a cargo container. California Penal Code § 458 defines a cargo container as a structure that:

  • Is strong enough for repeated use
  • Is designed to carry goods without intermediate reloading
  • Can be transferred from one form of transportation to another
  • Is designed to fill and empty easily
  • Has a displacement of 1,000 cubic feet or more

You Can Also Face Charges for Using Burglary Tools

In addition to burglary charges, you could face penalties for any equipment or tools you use to carry out the crime under California Penal Code § 466. Here are some tools that could warrant misdemeanor charges if used during a burglary:

  • Picklock
  • Crowbar
  • Screwdriver
  • Vise grip pliers
  • Tension bar
  • Master key
  • Lockpick gun

In addition to this offense, California Penal Code § 464 states that anyone trying to open a secure place like a safe or vault with equipment capable of burning steel or another solid substance could face felony charges.

Penalties for Burglary in Oakland, CA

You could face various penalties depending on the type of burglary you’re charged with and whether any other factors are present. The penalties for first- and second-degree burglary include:

  • First-Degree Burglary – Two, four, or six years in the California state prison. First-Degree Burglary is also a strike under California’s three strikes law
  • SecondDegree Burglary – No more than one year in county jail if charged as a misdemeanor, or 16 months, two years, or three years if charged with a felony

If you use equipment capable of burning steel to access a safe or vault, you could spend up to seven years in prison. Possessing any burglary tools like a crowbar or lockpick could result in up to six months in county jail.

Possible Defenses for Burglary

The prosecution has a lot to prove to convict someone of burglary. They must establish each element under California law. A theft attorney’s defense strategy is to create as much doubt as possible to discredit the prosecution’s claims.

The following defenses might be available to you:

You Never Intended to Commit a Crime

Intent is one of the primary elements of a burglary. Without the intent to commit a crime, burglary doesn’t exist.

The prosecution must also show that you intended to commit a crime before entering the structure. If you intended to commit a crime after already entering the building, burglary didn’t occur. So, the timing of your intent is crucial in determining if the burglary was committed.

You Were Permitted to Enter the Structure

There’s a chance your attorney could prove you had permission to enter the building or structure, and anything you’re accused of taking might have rightfully been yours in the first place.

For example, you might have lent something to a friend and were permitted to enter their home and retrieve it while they were gone.

Someone Else Committed the Crime 

Police or witnesses might have wrongfully identified you as the one who committed the offense, which happens more than you think.

They may have footage of someone who looks like you, or your fingerprints were recovered at the scene. However, just because your fingerprints were found doesn’t mean you committed a crime by being there.

A Burglary Defense Lawyer Can Fight Your Charges

With knowledge of California law and the local courts in the Bay Area, Morris Law is your best chance at fighting the charges against you. Attorney Seth Morris is persistent in his defense and won’t let the prosecution get by on flaky evidence.

Contact Morris Law today by calling 510-330-0814. Free Consults.