An Overview of Burglary in California

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Burglary is a form of theft that is prohibited by law in California. Prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 459, burglary is a serious offense and can lead to substantial penalties, including fines and prison time. Below is an overview of burglary in California.

What is burglary?

Burglary is the act of entering into an inhabited home with the intent of committing theft or some other felony. This type of theft is categorized as first-degree burglary and is prosecuted as a felony. In order for an individual to be convicted of first-degree burglary in California, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. The defendant entered into an inhabited home, and
  2. The defendant intended to commit theft or some other felony while inside the inhabited home.

What are the penalties for first-degree burglary in California?

If an individual is convicted of first-degree burglary in California, he or she faces the following possible penalties:

  • Up to six years in prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000, and
  • A strike on his or her criminal record under California’s Three Strikes law.

In addition, the above penalties can increase based on the circumstances of the defendant’s case.  For example, if an individual commits burglary while carrying a weapon or causes severe bodily injury to another person during the commission of a burglary, the penalties will likely increase.

What is second-degree burglary?

Second-degree burglary, also known as commercial burglary, occurs when an individual enters a place of business with the intent to commit a felony or theft. In order for an individual to be convicted of second-degree burglary, it must be proven that:

  1. The defendant entered a commercial room, building, vehicle, vessel, container, or cargo; and
  2. The defendant entered the commercial structure with the intention to commit theft or some other felony.

What are the penalties for second-degree burglary?

Second-degree burglary is known as a “wobbler” offense, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the circumstances of the crime. When charged as a misdemeanor, second-degree burglary is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. When charged as a felony, second-degree burglary is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

San Diego Criminal Defense Attorneys

Due to the potential consequences involved, it is important that anyone charged with first or second-degree burglary in San Diego, California, seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, our experienced criminal defense attorneys provide all of our clients with expert legal guidance in order to achieve the most favorable results possible in both misdemeanor and felony cases.

The talent and experience of our San Diego, California, attorneys ensures that our clients’ first and second-degree burglary cases are handled expertly and with the utmost care.

If you or a loved one is facing first or second-degree burglary charges in California, please contact us immediately for a free consultation.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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