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Burglary law in California can be a very complex area of the law.  You need an experienced Attorney to help you.  With more than 13 years of Criminal Defense experience I can help you throught the challenges of being charged with Burglary. 

California defines Burglary under Penal Code section 459 "entering a structure with intent to commit a Felony or theft"

There is no breaking requirement for Burglary only that you entered with intent to commit a Felony therein. 

Burglary is a Wobbler which means it can be charged either as a Felony or a Misdameanor. 

The penalties for Burglary are harsh and it is a strike.  However, due to difficulties in proof often Burglaries are reduced to lesser charges by prosecutors.


Below I will go over several areas of what the prosecution must prove as to Burglary.

1. What is the Difference between First Degree Burglary and Second Degree Burglary.

2. How does the Prosecutor Prove that I committed Burglary under Penal Code 459.

3. Examples of Burglary

4. California Burglary and related offenses

5. Penalties, Punishments, and Sentencing for California Penal Code 459PC Burglary.

6.  What are the defenses to Burglary


If after reading this article you have any questions please feel free to call us.



As previously stated Burglary is defined as entering a structure with intent to commit a Theft or Felony therein. 


First Degree Burglary is when the above elements are met and the structure was a dwelling house.  Or what is commonly referred to as a place where someone lives or sleeps.


Is entering a place that is not a dwelling house with intent to commit a theft or Felony therein. 

2.  How Does the Prosecutor prove that I have committed Burglary Under PC 459 1st Degree?


the prosecution must prove the following two facts.

1. that you entered a building

2. when you entered the building you did so with the intent to commit a theft or felony therein.

lets break this down.

for the purposes of this statute a dwelling house includes

traditional homes

mobile homes



Any part of the body enters the home

or an object under the control of the person entering

For example if you reach into an open window in your neighbors house you have committed a Burglary.


This is where it gets tricky, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to commit a burglary at the time that you entered the dwelling.  sometimes that is clear sometimes it is not.

if you are entering at night with burglary tools and you have items taken from the home outside when the police arrive then your intent is clear. 

Burglary tools are anything that can assist you in the burglary.

your intent may not be so clear if you are committing petty theft. unless you walked in with scissors or other tools to help you in commiting the Petty Theft. 




This depends on the facts of the case and your prior history is any. 

if you are convicted of second degree burglary you will be either given probation or 16 months two years or three years in state prision depending on your prior history and the facts of the case.

if you are convicted of First Degree Burglary you face two, four or six years in the state prison or in unusual circumstances probation. 

Many times we have a psychologist do a full evaluations of our clients to determine if they have a mental health diagnosis that would benefit from treatment if treatment was ordered as part of probation. 


If you or a loved one have been accused of Burglary call us to get the help you need.



If you have been charged with this Felony offense it is a serious charge.  I have handled dozens of cases involving resisting arrest.  As a former probation officer, deputy district attorney and criminal defense attorney with more than 13 years of criminal defense experience I have the ability to handle your case. 

Californias 148 pc is californias resisting arrest law as a misdameanor. However, pc 69 may be prosecuted as a Felony. Which subjects an offender to a state prison sentence and substantial fines.

But were here to help.  As a former probation officer I know that "resisting arrest" charges are oftentimes nothing more than trumped up allegations.  And that whats more is that my knowlege can help you.

Below, our California criminal defense attorneys address the following:

1. The legal definition of "Resisting an Executive Order

2. Legal Defenses

3. Penalties, Punishments, and Sentencing

4. Related Offenes


If, after readin this article you have any questions dont hesitate to call.




1. Willfully and unlawfully attempting by threats or violence to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing a lawful duty, and

2. Using force or violence to resist and executive officer in the perfromance of his or her lawful duties.

Lets take a closer look at some of these terms and phrases to gain a better understanding of their legal definitions


You act willfully when you committ and act willingly or on purpose.  It doesn't matter if you don't intend to break the law, as long as the act is intentional.

The term "unlawfully" is used to distinguish from lawful threats.   Threatening to report an officer who for example is on the take is not unalawfull. 



Threats may be oral or written and maybe implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct.  There is no requirement tha you actually intend to carry out your threatened act. only that you intend fo it to be interpreted as a threat by the intended victim. 

Similiarly, there is no requirement that the threat be immediate or imminent. 



The words force and violence have the same meaning in a resisting and executive officer case as they do in a california penal code 242  battery case. The force does not need to cause any harm or pain, as even a slight touch done in a rude, angry or offensive manner.  Also touching something attached to the person such as clothing is or a purse is sufficient. 


An executive officer is a public employee who may exercise some or all of his or her own discretion in performing his or her job duties.  Any employee who is charged with enforcing the law is an executive officer. 

this is a much broader definition than the one for peace officer it includes



other elected officials



Must be a duty that you prevented him from carrying out a lawful duty.



Some of the defenses although not a complete list are as follows

the officers conduct was unlawful

the officer isn't protected when committing an unlawful act

self defense

similiarly, if you resist an exucutive officer who is using excessive force against you, you are entitled to exercise you right to self defense in accordance with californias self defense laws.  your force must be reasonable under the circumstances.

remember if the officer only uses excessive force because you are resisting what is otherwise a lawful order than this defense will not work.


pc 69 is often trumped up charge.  when we suspect that you are innocent we can file a pitches motion to investigate possible police misconduct a pitches motion is a request for information in the arresting officers personell file.  If we find a history of complaints or misconduct, it will likely result in the reduction of charges. 


Penal Code 69 is a wobbler meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdameanor.  depending on the circumstances.


If you have any questions don't hesitate to call. 



A DUI case can last a long time, especially if you’re taking the case all the way to trial. Many times clients will go the route of accepting a plea bargain, which can significantly shorten the amount of time your DUI attorney works on the case. However, before you consider a plea bargain, it’s important to consider the following scenarios.

Almost always a Manslaghter at trial will be a defense or mitigation to first or second degree murder charge.  Rarely is manslaughter charged by itself as a charge brought by the District Attorney. 

Having tried more than 5 First Degree Murder cases, and having personally handled more than 20 more murder cases, and 10 Attempted Murder, cases I know the ins and outs of a Homicide trial.  I wrote earlier about the law of Homicide I will keep this article more to the crime of manslaughter and how that charge relates to the crime of Murder.


First as stated above, the District Attorney will usually charge someone on First Degree Murder charge.  As  a result if there is no question that the accused intentionally killed the deceased an argument will ensue to have the case pled to a charge of manslaughter.

If the defendant's argument is that someone else killed the deceased that is a very different defense. But lets say you are accused of First Degree Murder and you are going to trial, the District Attorney has rejected your offer of pleading guilty to manslaughter and the case is now at trial.

Many times I will simply tell the jurors up front they are here to decide wether the accused should be held liable for first degree murder, second degree murder, or manslaughter.


will wil admit that the defendant killed the deceased but wil say there was either one of three things present.

1. Provocation

2. Imperfect Self Defense

3. Heat of Passion

it should be noted that Self Defense, is a different defense. Meaning you or someones elses life was in danger of death or serious bodily injury and that is a complete defense to Homicide. We will have a seperate article regarding self defense.


Under Jury Instruction 522 Sufficient Provocaction can reduce a Murder from First Degree Murder to Second Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder to Manslaughter. 

This is because if you were provoked you acted out of the provocation in committing the intentional murder not deliberation and premeditation.  Contrary to Jury Instruction 570 which we will discuss below, the provocation does not have to be found reasonable just sufficient.  This is because if you are acting out of provocation then you will not be acting with malice which is needed for Second Degree Murder. 

Therefore the provocation shows you were not acting with deliberation and premiditation, and you were not acting with Malice.  Again this is a stand alone Jury Instruction, meaning it does not need a  lot of other Jury Instructions to explain it and must be argued properly to the Jury without mixing it up with the 570 Heat of Passion Instruction.  That is exactly why you need an Attorney that has tried Homicide cases.


The Heat of Passion Jury Instruction is Instruction Number 570. 

Heat of passion means that a person intentionally killed another person, however, when they did this they acted out of heat of passion with adequate provocation and before the passions had cooled.  You see in our criminal justice system we look at what the person did wrong and what there mental state or what they were thinking when they did what they did.   And our legal system believes that if someone kills someone before the passions have cooled then they should be treated as less culpible then say someoen that premiditates a killing. 

Jury Instruction 570 has two elements

Subjective Element was the person provoked, and acted due to that provocation and

Objective Element A reasonable person would have been provoked under the same circumstances. 

The standard explanation is if you walk in on your wife having sex with another man immediately grab a gun and kill the man.  This could lead to a manslaughter conviction because the person acted immediately before the passions had cooled and a reasonable person would be provoked to act without due caution and circumspection at a man sleeping with his wife.


Imperfect Self Defense is another way to have a Homicide reduced from First Degree to Second Degree and reduced to Manslaughter. 

Imperfect self defense has two different elements.


2. That that belief was unreasonable

so there is no reasonableness requirement.  In other words just as long as the persons belief was reasonable that he needed to use deadly force then the crime is manslaughter under the imperfect self defense doctrine. 


you are at a bar and a menacing looking person is staring at you.  At one point he even makes a comment a to you.  You decide to leave.  He follows you outiside.  Once outside he appears to reach for a weapon, you shoot and kill him.  It ends up  that he only was going for his keys to leave.  However the jury believes that you honestly believed in your need to defend yourself even though that belief was unreasonable you would not be guilty of first degree murde, because you were acting out of your unreasonable belief no premiditation and deliberation. 

You would not be guilty of Second Degree Murder because you were not acting out of malice you were acting out of your belief in the need to protect yourself with deadly force. Therefore you would be guilty of Manslaughter. 

A motion to suppress evidence is a motion to suppress evidence that has been illegally obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure by government agents.  

If you have been arrested or your property has been seized you need an experienced Attorney to file motions do investigation, and determine if a motion to suppress is applicable to your case.  

As a former Military Policeman, Deputy Probation officer, Deputy District Attorney, with more than 13 years of experience in Criminal Law, and someone that has taught Legal Evidence at the Junior College level, I know the evidence code and can help you with your case.  There are several condiderations we look at when deciding whether to file a motion to suppress. 

1. Was there a search by a government agent.  This can be a more difficult question than it may look like at first.  

because for the search to be illegal there must be conduct by some government agent for example a police officer is a government agent.

2. Was there a search warrant.  If there is a search warrant than the question is whether that warrant was valid.   

a warrant must be based upon probable cause and be reasonably specific, and not vague or overbroad.  

but lets first look at a search without a warrant. 

For a search without a warrant to be valid there must be some firmly rooted exception to the warrant requirement. 


Emergency search or seizure.

A search of you person and clothing as a result of an arrest. 

A search of your automobile ( police must have probable cause for this search). 


For the purpose of this discussion lets say I or whomever you have as your Attorney decides to file a motion to suppress evidence.  It would likely go something like this.

First he would read the police report, and find there was no warrant for a search and he does not belive the emergency situation that the police have related in your report. 

First, a motion must be written and served upon the District Attorney within 10 court days of the date of the calendared motion.  

Next, the officer will be called into court and both the District Attorney and the Attorney for the accused are allowed to ask questions of the officer. 

Usually there will be some guidelines to these questions based upon the moving papers of the accused and the response filed by the prosecution.


The Judge will consider both the argument of counsel and the moving papers and the testimony.  He will then make a ruling as to the admissibility of the evidene.  If the evidence is suppresed by the Judge that means that the evidence cannot be used by the prosecution to prove your guilt it is suppressed.  The reason for this is to assure lawfurl police conduct if the officer knows that evidence will not be admitted into court he or she will be less likely to introduce illegal means to obtain the evidence.  

We will save the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine for a later discussion.  This is a tricky doctrine and needs more time.  

Many times the legality of a search is determined by the judge determining if the facts were sufficient to assume there was an emergency situation happening. 

example the police arrive at a home due to a call by a neighbor they do not have a warrant.  However, upon arrival they begin to hear screaming and yelling and someone sounding as if they are very scared.   They knock on the door several times and no one answers, they then hear a thud.  This could be an emergency due to the thud and the fact someone could be in danger.  If the officers enter and find drugs, a women hurt, and other indicia of drug sales most likely all of these items would be admissible.  This is becuase the Judge would most likely find under those circumstances that an emergency was occurring and the police needed to enter to prevent someone being hurt. 

If you have any other questions please give us a call this is a basic overview of motions to suppress and some deal with very difficult issues. 







Under California DUI law, you are currently considered to have given "implied consent" to a DUI chemical blood or breath test if you drive a car. If you refuse to take such a test after being lawfully arrested for DUI, and you are later convicted of DUI, you will face additional penalties for chemical test refusal.

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Gerald Schwab, Jr.


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