Burglary | California Penal Code 459 [PC 459]

Definitions: Under California Penal Code 459, an individual can be guilty of burglary for entering a house, room, apartment, other buildings, vessel, vehicle, locked or sealed cargo container with intent to steal or commit a felony therein.

A prosecution must prove that an individual has the intent to commit a felony or steal at the time of the entering. If the intent came after one entered the premises, he/she is not guilty of burglary.

Degrees/Punishment: California differentiates between a first and second degree burglary. Any burglary occurring in an inhabited building/vessel or a building designed for habitation is considered a first degree burglary. All other burglary is considered of a second degree (commercial buildings).

A first degree burglary is considered a felony and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. First degree burglary is a very serious crime, which counts a strike on your record. This means that a convicted individual will have to remain in prison for at least 85% of the sentence regardless of good behavior. Whereas, the second degree burglary can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on individual’s criminal record and severity of the circumstances.


There are number of defenses that can be raised to a burglary charge. First, the prosecution must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must prove the intent to steal or commit a felony within the building. The most common defenses include intoxication, mistake of fact, alibi, lack of intent, consent, failure to give Miranda Warnings, etc.

Call experienced criminal defense attorneys at Delicino & Vialtsin, LLP to discuss your case. (619) 357-6677

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