Getting arrested for burglary is no laughing matter. The first thing you have to understand is that the sentence and punishment for burglary in California vary from one person to the next. Why? Because burglary is one of California’s wobbler offenses which means that certain details of the burglary determine if you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
The fact that you’ve been arrested and charged with burglary in California doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve stolen anything. In California, you can be arrested for simply entering a locked car or home. Even if you never took anything, you’ll still be charged with burglary.
The first thing that is considered when the police and prosecuting attorney are trying to figure out how they are going to handle your burglary charges is whether you committed first-degree or second-degree burglary.
It’s in your best interest for them to decide on second-degree burglary In California, second-degree burglary is a more minor crime. It can be treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The sentence generally only involves a single year of incarceration. A second-degree burglary can be used for commercial properties and vehicles.
If you’re convicted of second-degree burglary in California but the case was handled as a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is 12 months in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If you’re convicted of felony second-degree burglary, your sentence ranges from sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years in a state prison.
First-degree burglary is a more serious crime. A first-degree burglary charge in California means that there is enough evidence against you to indicate that you broke into a private inhabited residency.
Something many people don’t fully understand is that you don’t have to steal something to be charged and convicted of burglary in California. The way the laws are written, all you have to do is to enter a structure without the owner’s permission and have the intention of stealing something. It also isn’t the same as breaking and entering. Breaking and entering requires you to break something, such as a lock, to gain access to a building’s interior.
If you crawl through an open window or walk through an unlocked door, you can be charged with burglary but not breaking and entering.