Few life events have the potential to be more stressful and intimidating than facing criminal charges. After all, depending on the severity of the charges, you may lose your freedom, pay a steep fine and encounter major life-related consequences.
While it may make sense to negotiate a plea deal for a burglary charge, there also may be nothing wrong with forcing prosecutors to prove your guilt at trial. In criminal cases, they must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
The elements of burglary
Section 459 of the California Penal Code lists the two elements of burglary:
- The defendant enters a building, room or vehicle
- The defendant intends to steal or commit a felony inside
While many California’s associate burglaries with theft, stealing someone’s property is not necessary for a burglary conviction. Along with intending to steal property, any felonious intention is likely to satisfy the second element of the offense.
Likewise, your entire body does not have to enter a building, room or vehicle. Simply sticking your hand or a finger inside a structure or vehicle may be enough to support a conviction.
Defenses to a burglary charge
Even if your conduct technically constitutes burglary, you may be able to secure an acquittal by mounting a smart defense. For example, if you lack the intention to commit a felony, you may not be guilty of burglary.
Ultimately, because a conviction for burglary may change your life forever, it is advisable to explore all your legal options before choosing a course of action.