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What Happens if I’m Convicted of Burglary in California?

Burglary charges are heavy ones and if accused, you will need a knowledgeable defense. California considers first-degree burglary charges as violent crimes, and as a violent crime, it brings harsh consequences if found guilty. Read on to learn about how burglary is defined and what are three useful defenses against the charge. If you’ve been accused of burglary, don’t hesitate to call a Tehema County theft lawyer. Gregg Cohen has decades of experience to use in defending your rights and getting you the best possible result.

How is Burglary Defined Under California Law?

Burglary as a crime has three elements to it. To get your conviction, the prosecution has to prove all of them. These are:

  • Breaking and entering
  • Into a building or otherwise occupied structure
  • With the intent to commit a crime

Note that even if the prosecution can’t prove all the elements for burglary, they may in the course of their argument succeed at proving another charge. Please ask your lawyer for a full explanation of the charges in your case.

Burglary Defenses You Should Know

Depending on the circumstances of your case, various defenses might be open to your lawyer. Here we will cover three of them.

  • Actual innocence: Proving you innocent may be as difficult as proving you guilty. In a burglary charge, the prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you did that crime. That is, the court must believe that the only reasonable explanation is that proffered by the prosecution. If the court has any plausible doubt, then they shouldn’t find you guilty. While the standard of proof is high, the court may wonder when you were even charged, if you are innocent. For that reason, the court may also be inclined to believe you might have committed a crime.
  • It Isn’t What It Seems: Another tactic your lawyer may use is to acknowledge that you did the behavior the prosecution alleges, but that even with that, your actions still did not amount to a crime. Your lawyer may say, for instance, that though you entered the building the prosecution says you did, you reasonably believed you had permission to do so. This would go toward proving you didn’t break and enter into the building. Keep in mind that the belief does not need to be correct. The belief in having permission only needs to be reasonable.
  • Lack of Intent: Finally, your lawyer may argue that you lacked even the intent to do the crime. If you were found with burglary tools or a deadly weapon at the scene of the crime, your lawyer may not succeed. But if your lawyer can prove that you were intoxicated (with alcohol or controlled substances) or that you were extremely distressed and/or mentally ill, your lawyer may be able to convince the court that couldn’t have formed the required intent.