Los Angeles Burglary Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges of any kind in California can be incredibly distressing. However, whether you broke the law or have been wrongfully charged, reliable legal counsel is invaluable when you are facing prosecution in Los Angeles. The right defense attorney handling your case will make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your criminal case proceedings, potentially helping you avoid conviction.
Criminal Defense Representation for Los Angeles, CA, Burglary Cases
The Law Office of Stein & Markus offers client-focused criminal defense representation to individuals facing criminal charges related to burglary and other types of theft in the Los Angeles, CA, area. If you have been charged with first- or second-degree burglary in Los Angeles, it’s vital to exercise your constitutional right to legal counsel and secure defense representation from an attorney you can trust.
Why Do I Need a Los Angeles Burglary Defense Lawyer?
When an American citizen is charged with any criminal offense, the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution gives them the right to defense counsel. If a defendant can’t afford to hire private defense counsel or if they do not wish to incur attorneys’ fees for their defense, the court can appoint a public defender to represent them free of charge.
Most public defenders are dedicated, experienced, and hardworking attorneys who provide the best defense counsel they can to every client they represent. However, their job requires representing multiple clients simultaneously, and public defenders typically spend their days fielding issues related to many cases one after another. In addition, the nature of their work prevents them from providing any one client with much in the way of personal attention. So, while sticking with a public defender might seem like an easy way to minimize the financial toll of defending yourself against burglary charges in Los Angeles, it’s vital to recognize the difference between what you can expect from a public defender and what a private Los Angeles burglary attorney can offer.
Private criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Stein & Markus maintain manageable caseloads, giving them the time and flexibility to offer every client personalized defense counsel. When you choose The Law Office of Stein & Markus to represent you in a Los Angeles burglary case, you can expect aggressive representation through every stage of your case. We’ll strive for a case dismissal or acquittal if possible, and if a conviction is unavoidable, our team can help you secure a favorable plea bargain that minimizes your sentence.
What Is Burglary?
Burglary is a commonly misunderstood criminal charge that potentially qualifies as a misdemeanor or felony depending on whether the burgled building was inhabited. While burglary is a form of theft, it is distinct from other theft-related criminal charges because it involves intentionally breaking into another party’s property. Burglary is illegally entering another person’s property and stealing from the property or committing another crime. While most burglary charges pertain to breaking and entering with the intent to commit theft, it is also possible for an individual to face burglary charges if they break into a private property to commit some other crime, such as murder, sexual assault, or destruction of property.
Like most other criminal charges prosecuted in California, burglary charges follow a degree system. A defendant can face burglary in the first degree or burglary in the second degree. The only difference between these two degrees is whether the property in question was inhabited. Burglary in the first degree applies to breaking into and entering an inhabited property to commit a crime, while burglary in the second degree applies when breaking into and entering an uninhabited property to commit a crime.
It is important to note that burglary cases typically involve multiple criminal charges. For example, if a defendant broke into a home to steal the homeowner’s personal property, this would qualify as burglary in the first degree and a theft offense, the penalty for the latter hinging on the value of the property stolen. It’s also possible for a defendant to face a burglary charge even if they did not take any property or commit another crime.
When a burglary case involves multiple charges, the defendant’s potential penalty increases dramatically. The standard punishment for misdemeanor burglary in the second degree in California includes up to one year in county jail plus fines and penalty assessments. The penalty for felony burglary in the first degree includes heavier fines and up to three years in state prison. These penalties will compound with the penalties for related charges. If a defendant faces additional charges for grand theft, sexual assault, domestic violence, or violent assault, their sentence could escalate dramatically.
Understanding Burglary Charges in California
It’s vital for anyone facing burglary charges in Los Angeles to understand how the court interprets these cases’ details. One of the most important factors is whether the property was inhabited. This means someone currently owns and uses the property, and it is vital to understand that “inhabited” and “occupied” are legally separate terms for burglary cases. If a property is “inhabited,” this means the property is currently used for dwelling or business purposes regardless of whether it was occupied when the burglary occurred. So, for example, if a defendant broke into someone else’s home, this counts as an inhabited property even if the owner was not in their home when the burglary occurred. On the other hand, if the defendant broke into an empty house for sale, this would qualify as an uninhabited property.
Intent is another critical factor in a burglary case. To qualify for prosecution for burglary, the defendant must have broken into the property in question to commit a crime, such as theft or assault. However, if the defendant entered a property for normal purposes and then decided to commit a crime once inside, this would not constitute burglary. For example, if an individual visited a home for sale during an open house with no intention to commit a crime but once inside stole the owner’s belongings, this would qualify as theft, not burglary.
Burglary only requires the intent to commit a crime to qualify for prosecution. This means an individual could face prosecution for attempted burglary if they tried to break into and enter another person’s property but failed to do so or if they were caught breaking and entering. It is also possible for an individual to face a misdemeanor charge for illegal possession of burglary tools, such as lockpicking tools, crowbars, illegally copied keys, and other tools that indicate the individual planned to commit a burglary. However, an individual charged with illegal possession of burglary tools may avoid conviction for this misdemeanor offense if they prove they had the tools for some other legitimate purpose.
While most burglary charges pertain to residential properties, it is also possible for an individual to face a burglary charge for breaking into and entering a business to commit a crime. This should not be conflated with shoplifting or theft, however. For example, if an individual enters a retail store during regular business hours and steals property, this likely qualifies as shoplifting or theft, depending on the value of the items stolen. However, if they break into the store after it has closed, this will qualify as burglary.
Burglary can apply to many different types of properties and even certain vehicles, including:
What to Expect From Your Los Angeles Burglary Attorney
Many people charged with criminal offenses in California are unprepared for the demanding nature of their charges. Having an experienced defense attorney on your side will make approaching this situation with confidence much easier, and you are far more likely to secure a favorable outcome with the right attorney defending you.
Remember that in any criminal case in the United States, the prosecutor must prove the allegations. The defendant doesn’t have to demonstrate they are innocent. The prosecution has to demonstrate that the defendant is guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s technically possible for a defendant to avoid conviction by simply allowing the prosecution to fail to meet this standard. However, a defendant should not hope that the prosecution will not make their case, and it is essential to be proactive in building your defense.
You may have more defenses available to you than you initially realized. For example, you may have been wrongfully charged with burglary due to mistaken identity. It’s also possible for an individual to face burglary charges due to actions taken in an emergency, such as breaking into a remote building to seek shelter from a sudden storm. It is also possible to defend against burglary charges by proving that the defendant had no intention to commit a crime once inside the property.
Ultimately, your defense attorney’s main job is to prevent the prosecution from proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They may accomplish this by proving mistaken identity, calling the credibility of evidence and witness testimony into question, or challenging the manner in which evidence was secured, preserved, and handled by the police and prosecutors.
Plea Bargaining in a Criminal Case
While an experienced defense attorney can help their client avoid conviction, if the prosecution’s case is strong enough and the defendant’s guilt is readily apparent, plea bargaining may be the defendant’s best hope of minimizing their penalty. In many cases, prosecutors are willing to negotiate lighter sentences and reduced charges in exchange for a guilty plea. If the defendant pleads guilty, this will inherently preserve court resources and streamline the case proceedings significantly.
Your defense attorney can help you determine whether a plea bargain would suit your best interests. If the prosecution’s case is airtight, this may be the only viable defense option available to you. However, it is important to understand that prosecutors do not always offer plea bargains. For example, they might be unwilling to agree to lighter sentencing or reduced charges if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious.
Aggravating factors can reduce the chances of the prosecution being willing to negotiate a plea bargain. For example, if the defendant broke into another person’s home intending to steal their property and they injured or killed the homeowner during the burglary, it is unlikely that the prosecution will downplay a violent crime along these lines. Similarly, if the defendant has a criminal record of similar crimes, the prosecution may be unwilling to plea bargain. California also has a Three Strikes law, meaning that three felony convictions automatically lead to 25 years in prison or a life sentence. If the defendant faces a third violent or serious felony for burglary in California, plea bargaining may be very difficult, but it could be their only hope of avoiding life in prison.
Contact Our Law Firm Today
The Los Angeles burglary defense attorneys at The Law Office of Stein & Markus believe in client-focused defense representation. Every criminal case prosecuted in California is unique, and every defendant faces different circumstances. We will take time to learn as much as possible about you and your case to ensure we provide the highest quality defense representation. After an arrest for burglary in California, exercise your right to remain silent until you can make a phone call to a defense attorney. Contact The Law Office of Stein & Markus to schedule your consultation with an experienced Los Angeles burglary defense lawyer. Our compassionate team can help you through every step of the process.
Free Attorney Consultation in California Federal Crime Cases
If you are under investigation or have been charged with any federal crime in California, The Law Office of Stein & Markus in Bellflower is ready to meet with you, explain your legal rights, and start building a defense for you. Arrange a free initial consultation by calling (562) 512-7030 or contact us online today.
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