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What are the common defenses and legal penalties for breaking and entering

Under California law, crimes often referred to as "breaking and entering" fall under the categories of trespassing and burglary. The statutes that prohibit such crimes are Penal Code 459 (burglary) and Penal Code 602 (trespassing). Depending on the crime and how it is charged, breaking and entering can result in as much as six years in prison as well as fines of $1,000. Read on to learn about the penalties for breaking and entering as well as possible legal defenses.

What are The Penalties of Breaking and Entering?

Trespassing, the act of unlawfully and wilfully dwelling or entering a property, under California law is generally considered to be a misdemeanor with penalties of

  • a maximum fine of $1,000
  • a six-month county jail sentence

Burglary, on the other hand, is a wobbler defense that can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the accused may receive up to a year in jail. However, if charged as a felony, he/she may receive up to a six-year sentence in prison.

What are Some Legal Defenses for Charges of Breaking and Entering?

The following are some of the more common legal defenses against charges of trespassing and burglary.

  1. There was no probable cause to arrest you.
  2. You were given permission to enter by the property owner.
  3. You broke in without criminal intent.

1.  There was no probable cause to arrest you

Police can only arrest or stop someone if there is probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed. In the case that an officer has arrested you without reason to believe your actions posed as threats to the law, then evidence obtained may not be used against you, which could result in either lesser charges or charges being dropped altogether.

2. You were given permission to enter by the property owner

It is only trespassing if you wilfully enter a building without the property owner's permission. If you can prove that you had in fact been given permission before entering, then you may use this fact as a defense against charges of trespassing.

3. You broke in without criminal intent

One of the defining traits of burglary under California law is that you must have had criminal intentions when entering a building without permission in order to be charged with burglary. Therefore, it is a defense that you did not intend to steal or commit a felony when entering.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

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