Celebrity homes in Los Angeles continue to the be the target of break-ins. Earlier this month, local police arrested a man on suspicion of burglary after he was seen entering Rihanna’s Los Angeles home. The pop star and actress was not home at the time of the breach. However, police were forced to use force to remove the intruder from her home. The state is currently investigating the incident and determining if there is sufficient evidence to charge the intruder with residential burglary.
Burglary in Los Angeles
What exactly is burglary? California law defines the crime to mean entering another person’s property with the intent to commit a theft or felony. Burglary is classified as “residential burglary” or “first-degree burglary” when the property is another person’s home or residence. Burglary is classified as “commercial burglary” or “second-degree burglary” when the target property is not a home or residence.
Does Burglary Have to Occur at Night?
The man suspected of burglarizing Rihanna’s home was arrested around 10 o’clock in the morning. Doesn’t the crime of burglary have to occur at night? Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that a burglary take place at night. While this may have been true years ago under the common law definition of the crime, burglary can occur at any time of the day.
How Do Police Prove Entry With Intent to Commit a Crime?
In order to be guilty of burglary, you must enter another person’s property with the intent to commit a felony or theft. If you enter property and then subsequently develop the desire or intent to commit a crime, you would not be guilty of burglary. (You would, however, likely be guilty of another crime if you followed through with your plan.)
How do police prove that this intent existed when you entered a house or property? The answer will depend on each specific case. However, the state will generally search for various pieces of evidence to support the argument that you were equipped with intent to commit a crime before entering property. This may include:
- Possession of tools commonly used in breaking and entering
- Possession of items belonging to the property owner
- Evidence showing that you surveilled the home and/or owner to determine when the property would be empty, and/or
- Prior arrests and/or convictions for similar crimes.
One piece of evidence may not be sufficient to satisfy the state’s burden of proof in a criminal case. Multiple pieces of evidence considered together, however, may be more persuasive.
Consequences of Burglary in Los Angeles
Burglary is a serious crime in Los Angeles, and a conviction can have devastating consequences for your future.
Residential Burglary: Residential, or first-degree, burglary is always a felony in California. A conviction is punishable by:
- 2, 4, or 6 years in a California state prison
- $10,000 in criminal fines
- Formal probation
- Restitution, and/or
- Community service.
Commercial Burglary: Commercial, or second-degree, burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The specific charge will often depend on the factors of the crime itself, whether any victims were harmed because of your actions, as well as your criminal record.
When charged as a misdemeanor, commercial burglary is punishable by 1 year in a Los Angeles jail and/or $1,000 in fines. When charged as a felony, commercial burglary is punishable by a maximum of 3 years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines.
Defending Burglary Charges in Los Angeles
An arrest does not automatically mean that a person will be charged, tried, and convicted of a crime. The best way to protect yourself from the consequences of an arrest is by asserting a strong defense. The state has to prove that you are guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Any arguments you present in your defense will help to cast doubt on that guilt and limit the consequences of your arrest.
Arguments that may be helpful in defending yourself from charges of burglary include:
- False accusation
- Mistaken identity
- You did not enter with the intent to commit a crime
- You mistakenly entered property unlawfully, and/or
- You thought you had consent to enter the property.
If evidence was gathered in violation of your Constitutional rights, you can also seek to have any tainted evidence suppressed. Without evidence to support its case, the state may be forced to offer a plea or drop the charges.
Arrested for Burglary? Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for Help
When you are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center, our attorneys are prepared to help you defend your future. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with our legal team. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.