The Truth About Breaking and Entering in California



People talk about breaking and entering charges all the time, so you’ll probably be surprised to learn that California doesn’t actually have any official breaking and entering laws. Just because California doesn’t have a specific breaking and entering law, it doesn’t mean you can walk into anyone’s house and not expect to face legal consequences. You will, it’s just that California lawmakers created some different terms for what most of us consider breaking and entering.

In most situations, a person who has broken into and entered a property without permission will face multiple charges, one of which is usually a burglary charge.

If burglary charges have been filed against you it’s because the police believe they’ve collected enough evidence to prove that you entered a commercial or residential property with the intention of stealing possessions.

Penal Code 459 PC deals with the topic of burglary. It states that:

    “Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary.”

In California, you can be charged with either first or second-degree burglary. First-degree burglary is always a felony, but second-degree burglary is one of California’s wobbler crimes, meaning you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony.

The sentence connected to a misdemeanor burglary conviction includes:

  • Up to 12 months in a county jail
  • Up to a $1,000 fine
  • Probation

If you’re convicted of second-degree felony burglary, your sentence could include:

  • 16 months-3 full years in a county jail
  • Probation
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

In most burglary cases, additional charges are added to the burglary charge. These charges
frequently include:

Some burglary incidents are the result of a simple misunderstanding which is why it is so important to make sure you clearly have the owner’s permission before entering a private residence or a commercial building.