Sec 459 of the California Penal Code defines the crime of auto burglary. Under the law, the crime is committed when an individual enters a locked automobile or its trunk with the intent to:
a) Steal the vehicle or committing the crime of Grand Theft Auto;
b) Steal property contained in the vehicle or committing the crime of petty theft or grand theft;
c) Commit any other felony inside the vehicle;
Entering a locked car does not mean that there is an automatic conviction for the crime. There are other facts that need to be present to fall within the purview of the criminal offense. Entering need not be done through the door, as the window can be used as a point of entry or even the windshield. Thus, breaking a seal, using pressure, disengaging a lock without permission from the owner can result in a conviction. When the doors are not locked, then the crime could not be committed.
Intent is also vital in the determination of the commission of the offense. Even if the actual intent was not carried out to its fullest extent, when this intent is present in entering a locked vehicle, then the crime is considered as committed.
Under the law, the offense is considered a second-degree burglary. This is a wobbler offense, thus its classification is determined with the factual circumstances of the offense and the individual’s criminal history. Depending on these two facts, the crime can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense.
When convicted as a misdemeanor offense, the imposable penalty is up to one (1) year in county jail. When convicted as a felony offense, the imposable prison sentence is from sixteen months up to three years in state prison.
The crime of autoburglary is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.