Penal Code for Burglary

The crime of burglary is addressed in Title 13, Chapter 1 of the California Penal Code. Sections 459 and 460 set out the elements required to constitute each of the two types of burglary in California. California law distinguishes between first degree and second degree burglary, each of which carries different penalties. Section 461 of the Penal Code sets out the punishments you face if you are convicted of one of these types of burglary.

First degree burglary

Also known as residential burglary, first degree burglary is defined as unlawful entry into a home or other residence with the intent to commit a felony inside. It is a felony punishable by two, four or six years in prison under Section 461 (a) of the Penal Code. However, you face enhanced penalties if a weapon was involved or if someone was injured or killed in the course of burglary. First degree burglary counts as a strike under California’s “three strikes and you’re out” law, and, if this is your third strike, you could face life in prison.

Second degree burglary

Second degree burglary is the unlawful entry into a commercial building, such as a store, with the intent to steal something inside. For this reason it’s commonly referred to as commercial burglary. It is a misdemeanor offense and, under Section 461 (b) of the California Penal Code, carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. However, in some cases it can be charged as a felony. This can depends on the circumstances of the burglary, such as the value of item stolen, or whether you have a prior criminal record. Conviction for a felony commercial burglary carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. Unlike first degree burglary, second degree burglary is not a strike offense.

Hire Farar & Lewis, LLP

As you can see, burglary is a serious offense with serious consequences. Your best chance of avoiding conviction or getting a reduced sentence is hiring Farar & Lewis, LLP to fight your case. Farar & Lewis is a well-established, elite California criminal defense firm whose attorneys have over 30 years of criminal trial experience. In fact, one of the attorneys is a former prosecutor, which gives him inside knowledge of how burglary is prosecuted and what the prosecutor’s approach will be to your case.


Farar & Lewis will explore all the defenses available in your case and the strength of each one. Legal defenses to burglary include:

• Mistaken identity

Your cannot be convicted of burglary if you show that you are not the person who committed the crime. You may have been the victim of false identification.

• Lack of intent

If you entered a dwelling with no intent to commit a crime inside, you cannot be convicted of burglary. Burglary requires specific intent to commit a crime once inside. Without the requisite intent, there is no burglary.

• Consent

If you had or believed you had permission to take an item, or the item is yours to begin with, you cannot be convicted of burglary.

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Farar & Lewis LLP is one of the premier Los Angeles criminal defense law firms, with over 40 years of combined experience.