Orange County 2nd-Degree Burglary Lawyer

Under California Penal Code Section 459, burglary is the act of entering a residential or commercial structure with the intent to commit a theft or felony. The structures covered under the Penal Code include houses, apartments, shops, as well as less common types of property such as tents, outhouses, and floating houses. 

The California Penal Code Burglary Laws divide the crime of burglary into 1st-degree or 2nd-degree burglary. 1st-degree burglary is entering a residential structure, while 2nd-degree burglary includes all other structures, such as commercial buildings and locked vehicles. 

The entering must be done with the intent of committing a theft or felony. For example, you can be charged with burglary if you enter a structure with the intent to commit a theft or felony, even if you did not actually commit the theft or felony. 

If you have been accused of 2nd-degree burglary, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer who can help defend you. The Orange County 2nd-degree burglary lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian have years of experience and will guide you through the legal process every step of the way. 

The Difference Between 1st and 2nd-Degree Burglary

As mentioned above, the difference between 1st and 2nd-degree burglary depends on the kind of structure that the accused has entered. 

If the accused has entered a residential structure, they will always be charged with 1st-degree burglary. This includes homes, apartments, guest houses, hotels, or recreational vehicles. On the other hand, 2nd-degree burglaries refer to all other types of non-residential structures. These crimes are commonly referred to as ‘commercial burglaries’ and include commercial structures, such as stores, businesses, animal enclosures, locked vehicles and loading docks. 

To prove that someone has committed 2nd-degree burglary, the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused purposefully entered a commercial structure without permission; and
  2. The accused entered the commercial structure with intent to commit a theft or felony.

1st-degree burglary is always charged as a felony. However, 2nd-degree burglary is a so-called “wobbler.”  A “wobbler”  means that the prosecutor can decide whether to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony which provides very different penalties.  

Penalties for 2nd-Degree Burglary

According to California Penal Code Section 459, 2nd-degree burglary can be charged at the prosecutor’s discretion as either a misdemeanor or a felony. 

To make this determination, the prosecutor often looks at the accused’s criminal history, the egregiousness of the facts surrounding the crime, and the quality of evidence against the accused. 

If convicted of 2nd-degree burglary as a misdemeanor, the penalties include the following:

  • Up to one-year imprisonment in the County Jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000 

If convicted of a felony 2nd-degree burglary, the penalties include the following:

  • One year and four months, two years or three years in a California State Prison to be served in the county jail;
  • A fine of up to $10,000;

In most cases, the judge will grant summary probation for those convicted of misdemeanor 2nd-degree burglary and formal probation for those convicted of felony 2nd-degree burglary. 

Orange County 1st-Degree Burglary Lawyer


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Common Defenses for 2nd-Degree Burglary

Several defenses can be used against a 2nd-degree burglary charge which may help you reduce or dismiss any criminal liability. One option includes proving that you had the owner or occupant’s permission to enter the commercial structure. However, there are many more defense options, including but not limited to:

  • Alledging that you were inebriated at the time you entered the property and unable to form criminal intent;
  • Presenting evidence to show when you entered the property, you did not intend to commit a theft or felony;
  • Proving that the evidence against you was collected by the police in violation of your Constitutional Rights;
  • Contending that you never entered the structure at all. 

How Does the Prosecution Prove Intent?

Intent to commit a theft or felony is one of the main elements necessary to prove someone committed 2nd-degree burglary. To prove intent, the prosecution may present as evidence several different factors, including but not limited to:

  • The accused’s demeanor, such as whether they were wearing clothing to conceal their identity;
  • Whether the crime occurred at a time of day when the accused was less likely to be seen;
  • If the accused was found at the scene using tools for unlawful entry, such as a crowbar, hammer, slim jim, screwdriver, lock picks, master keys or any other burglary tools.

Other factors, such as repeated offenses or previous crimes may be used against the defendant to prove intent. However, the quality of evidence against the accused is the most important factor that the prosecutor uses to charge and convict someone of 2nd-degree burglary. 

Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced burglary lawyer to fight for you in court. The Orange County 2nd-degree burglary lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian will help defend you with your best interests front and center. 

Difference Between Burglary and Trespass?

The crimes of trespassing and burglary share similarities. For instance, both crimes involve unlawful entry into a property without the owner’s consent. However, there are important distinctions, including the following:

  • Unlike burglary, trespassing does not include the intent to commit a theft or felony as part of the crime;
  • Trespassing does not have to occur within a structure. 

In order to convict someone of 2nd-degree burglary, the prosecution must prove that the accused entered the building with the intent to commit a theft or a felony therein. However, if you did not have the intention to steal or commit a felony, but still entered the commercial property without consent, you may face trespass charges. 

Don’t Wait. Contact an Experienced 2nd-Degree Burglary Lawyer Today.

The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian has years of experience successfully representing clients against 2nd-degree burglary charges in Orange County, California. If you or someone you care about has been charged with 2nd-degree burglary, we can help. Our skilled lawyers are committed to fighting for our clients and building a defense strategy to get the charges dismissed or reduced. To learn more about our legal services and how we can help you, call us at 855-918-4253 or contact us here to request a consultation.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.
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