Under California law, burglary can encompass many different crimes. In order to be charged with burglary, law enforcement officials need to suspect that you went into a room or building (or broke into a locked car) with the intention of committing either theft or any felony.
Law enforcement officials don't even have to prove that you committed any crime – only that you had the intention to do so when you entered the building, room or car. Also, entry can simply mean reaching through a window or open door; it doesn't have to involve your whole body.
According to FBI data, there were 245,767 burglaries in California in 2012. It's a common crime with possible serious consequences if you're found guilty for it.
What are some of the defenses you can use against burglary charges? The following are three:
1) Mistaken identity
It's possible that you weren't at the scene of the crime, but someone deliberately lied or unintentionally misidentified you. A good attorney will thoroughly question the evidence brought against you, which can range from eyewitness testimony to fingerprints.
Another possibility is that you were at the scene but didn't actually commit burglary. It's possible that someone else who was with you committed the crime, and that the blame mistakenly fell on you.
2) No intent to commit a theft or felony
With burglary, you have to enter some kind of room, home or business or break into a locked car with the intent of committing theft or a felony. If it can be proven that you made your entry without any intent to commit a crime, you may be let off the hook for burglary.
For example, maybe you stepped into someone's house for a visit, got into a heated argument with them, and stabbed them with a knife. You may face charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon, but because you didn't initially enter their home with the intent of attacking them, you shouldn't be charged with burglary.
3) You sincerely believed that what you were doing was legal
If you go into someone's house and take something, you can be charged with burglary. But what if you sincerely believe that the owner of the object gave you permission to borrow or take it? Or what if you sincerely believe that the object belongs to you?
Whatever defense you use when facing burglary charges, it's critical that you have a strong attorney on your side to help you. Don't hesitate to contact us at our office near the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, California. Our office represents individuals who were arrested in Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet, Menifee, Winchester or Riverside. We will fight for you to get treated fairly in court, examine all the evidence brought against you, and increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome for your charges.