California Penal Code Section 459 PC – Burglary

California Penal Code Section 459 PC makes it a crime for an individual to enter a home, building, or structure with the intent to commit a felony within. For example, if a person enters his neighbors home without his permission to commit rape (felony), he can be charged with burglary because he entered into another person’s home with the intent to commit a felony within the home.

In California, one of the most common forms of burglary is residential burglary, where an individual enters the home of another with the intent to commit a felony. If you have been charged with burglary, you should immediately contact an experienced burglary attorney to represent you and defend you. Burglary is a serious felony that carries substantial prison time.

So, if you have been charged with it, contact an experienced burglary defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and fight for you to stay out of jail. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of California Penal Code Section 459 PC – Burglary

According to California Penal Code Section 459 PC, “Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary. As used in this chapter, “inhabited” means currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not. A house, trailer, vessel designed for habitation, or portion of a building is currently being used for dwelling purposes if, at the time of the burglary, it was not occupied solely because a natural or other disaster caused the occupants to leave the premises.”

First Degree Burglary vs Second Degree Burglary

California Burglary Law creates two classes of burglaries: First-degree burglary and second-degree burglary. First-degree burglaries are those involving the burglary of a residence. Second-degree burglaries involve the burglary of any other structures. First-degree burglaries must always be charged as a felony, however, second-degree burglaries are wobblers, meaning the prosecutor has the discretion to charge it as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

For example, if a man enters his neighbor’s home with the intent to rape his neighbor, he is guilty of committing first-degree burglary because he entered the home of another person with the intent to commit a felony therein.

However, if for example, a person enters a bank with intent to pass a fake check once inside the bank, he can be charged with second-degree burglary because he entered into a structure that’s not a residence with the intent to commit a felony therein.

Proving a Person Guilty of Committing Burglary Under PC 459

For the prosecution to convict a person of committing burglary under Penal Code Section 459 PC, it must establish a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to establish even one element, it cannot convict the defendant of burglary charges. So, to convict an individual, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant entered into a home, apartment, house, shop, store, or other building, and
  • At the time the defendant entered, he had the intent to commit a felony or theft inside the structure

For the prosecution to convict the defendant it must show that he entered a home or structure, so what actually constitutes entry? Entry is defined as the defendant entering himself or if the defendant is using a tool to enter the structure, entry of the tool inside the building is sufficient to satisfy the entry requirement. For example, if the defendant is using a crowbar to break into the home, sticking the crowbar through the door is sufficient to satisfy the entry requirement even though the defendant never entered the building himself.

Also, for the prosecution to convict the defendant of committing burglary, it need not show that the defendant actually committed a felony within the building. This is so because entering the building with only the intent to commit theft or a felony therein is sufficient for the prosecution to convict the defendant. Of course, if the defendant actually commits a crime while inside the building, this makes the prosecution’s case of proving burglary much easier.  That said, the defendant need not commit a felony or theft to be guilty of burglary.

Penalties for Being Convicted of Burglary

If the prosecution convicts an individual of burglary charges under California Penal Code Section 459, the penalties depend on whether the individual was convicted of felony burglary or misdemeanor burglary.

Felony First Degree Burglary Penalties

  • Conviction of a felony offense
  • Two years, four years, or six years in California State Prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Formal probation for three to five years
  • Loss of your right to own a firearm for life

Felony Second Degree burglary

  • Conviction of a felony offense
  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in county jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Formal probation for three to five years

Misdemeanor Burglary Penalties

  • Conviction of a misdemeanor
  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Summary probation for three to five years

Note: Every burglary that involves entering the residence of another person is charged as a felony first-degree burglary. A residence is any home, inhabited home, a room within a home that’s inhabited, a room within any type of building that’s inhabited, or a hotel room. Inhabited means that a person or group of persons are using the residence as a dwelling, meaning they live there.

Examples of Burglary Under California Penal Code Section 459 PC

A man enters a home through an open backdoor to steal a women’s expensive jewelry valued at thousands of dollars. After the man enters the home, the owner of the home wakes up and scares the burglary away. The owner of the home calls the police, and the police catch the burglar two blocks away from the scene of the crime. Here, the burglar can be charged with first-degree felony burglary and convicted because he entered a home to commit a felony (grand theft). The fact that the defendant did not get away with the jewelry he intended to steal does not prevent the prosecution from convicting him of burglary.

A man stores his bike in the garage of his home. The garage is connected to his home via a doorway. The defendant comes into the man’s home and steals a bike valued at $1500. The man has just committed first-degree felony burglary because the garage is attached to the man’s home and is considered as part of his home.

Take the previous example. The home owner’s home is not attached to the garage. The defendant enters the garage and steals the homeowner’s bike. The man has committed second-degree felony burglary because he entered a structure with the intent to commit a felony. The only reason the defendant will not be charged with first-degree felony burglary is that the home and the garage are detached.

Defenses to California Penal Code Section 459 PC – Burglary

If you have been charged with burglary under Penal Code Section 459 PC, there are a variety of defenses that your attorney can use to defend you. The following list of defenses is not inclusive of all defenses that your attorney can use to defend you, rather, it is a list of some of the most commonly used defenses. To know which defenses apply to your case, you should contact an experienced burglary attorney at The H Law Group to defend you. Here are some defenses your attorney may be able to use:

  • The defendant did not have the intent to commit a felony when he entered the home or building
  • The defendant entered the building believing he had a right to the property he entered to retrieve
  • The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity
  • The defendant is falsely being accused of burglary
  • The defendant did not commit burglary
  • The defendant is being charged with burglary as a result of police misconduct

Contact an Experienced Burglary Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with burglary under 459 PC, you should immediately contact an experienced burglary attorney at The H Law Group to defend you. We have defended numerous individuals charged with burglary, so we have the knowledge and experience to achieve the best possible results for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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Act now to protect your legal rights.