Most forms of theft are a specific kind of property crime. Depriving someone of their financial resources through fraud is illegal, just like it is illegal to remove merchandise from a retail shop without paying for it first.
Most criminal charges involving theft relate to the property taken. For example, in shoplifting cases, the value of the items taken will determine the severity of the charges and the possible penalties. There is one form of theft offense that does not necessarily require proof that someone took anything to charge them with a crime.
Burglary is a property crime that people can face even if they never remove belongings from someone’s home.
How does California define burglary?
Although the average person thinks of burglary as theft from a home or a business after hours, the state definition is different than what you might expect. California law defines burglary as the act of illegally accessing someone else’s property with the intention of committing a crime.
Obviously, someone who breaks into a house by smashing a window with the intention of stealing money and electronics from the property could face burglary charges. Those who illegally enter a property or business with the intent of committing another crime, like assault or corporate espionage, could also face burglary charges under current California law.
Having a weapon in your possession at the time you illegally seek access to someone else’s property could aggravate the charges against you and increase the possible penalties.
Defending against a burglary charge
The exact circumstances that led to your arrest will influence the best defense in your case. If all the prosecution has is one grainy photograph of the alleged burglar, you may be able to challenge their identification of you as the burglar and even provide an alibi for the time that the offense likely occurred.
If police officers encountered you someplace you didn’t have the legal right to be, there could be a very simple explanation, such as following directions to somebody’s house and making the wrong turn somewhere. Reviewing the evidence against you and learning more about state law can help you determine the best defense strategy when facing theft or burglary charges.