A 27-year-old man is facing two counts of criminal burglary charges. According to reports, he was found in possession of several items reported missing from the Fallbrook and Bonsall homes. If convicted, the man will face up to 12 years behind bars.
Burglary Can be a Misdemeanor or a Felony
Burglary is the crime of entering a structure or locked room to commit larceny or a felony once you’re inside. Under Penal Code 459 PC, the crime can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The deciding factor is ultimately the type of structure that’s entered.
First-degree burglary involves entering a structure that is used as a residence. Examples of a residence can include an inhabited:
- Hotel, or
In other words, first-degree burglary involves breaking into a place where someone lives. The person does not have to be home at the time of the break-in for first-degree burglary charges to apply.
First-degree burglary is always a felony offense in California.
Second-degree burglary involves any burglary of a non-residential structure. This can include breaking into a store, shed, or abandoned house to commit a theft or felony.
Second-degree burglary is a wobbler, which means that it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Factors that may influence the charge include:
- Prior criminal history
- Crime committed while inside the structure
- Value of items stolen, and
- Degree of harm suffered by victims, if any.
Evidence Used to Support Burglary Charges in San Diego
The state has the burden of proving that a defendant is guilty of burglary beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors can rely on direct and/or circumstantial evidence to build their case.
Direct evidence requires no inference or additional information. Rather, it directly ties a person to a crime. Here, the defendant was found in possession of items that were reported as stolen from two different homes. These items would be introduced as direct evidence of the man’s involvement in the burglary.
Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, implies that a person committed a crime. The evidence, when considered by a jury, requires context and explanation. For example, let’s say the 27-year-old man was seen at a drug store around the corner from the Bonsall home shortly before the first burglary was reported. Prosecutors could introduce the man’s whereabouts to show that he was in the area and capable of committing the crime. This, on its own, wouldn’t be enough to tie the man to the crime. However, when considered with other evidence, it could be persuasive.
Each Count of Burglary Punishable Separately
The 27-year-old San Diego man is charged with two separate counts of residential burglary. If he’s convicted, he can face penalties for each separate offense. The court has the ability to impose those sentences concurrently (at the same time ) or consecutively (one served directly after the other).
In California, criminal penalties for residential burglary can include:
- Between 2 and 6 years in a California state prison,
- $10,000 in fines, and/or
- Felony probation.
Penalties may be more severe if a defendant has prior criminal convictions or strikes on their criminal record.