Burglary cases have been around a long time. I've been doing this for over 26 years and depending on the type of burglar case, that will dictate how one of the San Fernando Valley courts handles the case — whether it be Van Nuys court or San Fernando Court.
Residential Burglary Charges
If it's a residential burglary where somebody is alleged to be going into someone's home, obviously that's going to be treated much more seriously than what we would characterize as a commercial burglary which has to do with going into a vehicle and stealing something or going into a business and stealing something.
So, really it depends on the category of burglary (CALCRIM 1701). I would consider going into somebody's home a first-degree burglary and there's level of that, and then going into a car or a business and stealing something would be a second-degree burglary. The crime of burglary is defined under California Penal Code 459.
When we're talking about the serious first-degree burglary cases (CALCRIM 1700) those are classified as strikes pursuant to the Three Strikes Law. So, if you get convicted of one of those you'll have a strike on your record, at least in California forever unless they abolish the Three Strikes Law at some point, which seems pretty unlikely.
So, these strikes are significant for many reasons. One, because you have a felony on your record that you couldn't get off. Two, in the future if you picked up any new felony case your sentence could be doubled because of the Three Strikes Law, and three, obviously nobody wants to have a burglary on their record that they can't get off. It makes it difficult to get employment and it also prevents you from doing a host of other things.
Negotiation For Reduced Burglary Charges or Case Dismissal
One of the big things I try to do if I have a client charged with a first-degree burglary is get another charge or get the case dismissed. We can't dismiss all of the criminal cases unfortunately.
If it's a case where the person has a good argument that they're innocent, then obviously we will take the case to jury trial and try to show a jury that you're not guilty to get that not-guilty verdict. You can then move on with your life unscathed by the burglar charge in one of the San Fernando Valley courts.
But these San Fernando Valley courthouses are pretty conservative, so we're going to have to have some good evidence to get a not-guilty verdict. If you're like a lot of people who are charged with residential burglaries, you're going to end up having to take some sort of conviction.
Because they don't usually file these cases unless they have good evidence against you. So, a lot of times we will try to get a different charge other than a burglary — like a theft charge for example or just a grand theft – Penal Code Section 487 — would be a lot better than a residential burglary because it's not a strike.
It's something that after you finish probation, the San Fernando Valley courts will let you reduce to a misdemeanor and eventually we can get it dismissed or expunged on your behalf.
So, there's a lot of things that can be done when we're talking about these burglary charge. Where we start to get more serious in a first-degree burglary situation is when you go into somebody's home and there's a person present — meaning somebody's actually home when you go there.
That turns the first-degree burglary not only into a strike but also it turns it into a serious felony where you'd be facing usually prison time at 85% of whatever prison time you are given and that time would actually be served in a prison.
So, when there's somebody present, that ups the game because it makes things much more dangerous than if nobody's home. Sometimes people are armed with weapons and people get hurt or even a death occurs when you talk about these first-degree residential burglaries.
So, the San Fernando Valley courts like Van Nuys and San Fernando, the prosecutors and judges there obviously treat those burglary cases the harshest when it comes to sentencing people and punishing them.
A less serious burglary would be a second-degree burglary and a lot of those have been turned into theft-related offenses where you can end up getting some sort of a diversion program — even get the case knocked down to a misdemeanor.
There's all sorts of things that can be done when you're facing a second-degree burglary charge versus a first-degree burglary charge. So, obviously, you're in a much better position with a second-degree burglary charge.
But even those are treated seriously and you're talking people's property and if the property is substantial enough or in other words, worth a lot of money, or if you're taking money that's over $950.00.
So, all of this stuff is obviously dependent upon a number of factors. One, how serious are the actions related in the burglary; and two, what's your criminal record look like; and finally, how successfully can your attorney mitigate things and maneuver you through the Sn Fernando Valley courthouses which can sometimes be conservative and harsh when it comes to residential burglaries and even burglaries of any kind.
I've been handling these cases for many years. I'm here to help you. Pick up the phone. Make the call. We can get the ball rolling in the right direction to get you out of the criminal system as fast as possible.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.