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Breaking and Entering Law California

When it comes to California, one has to understand that there is no specific crime such as breaking and entering. It has been absorbed into the California burglary law that does not require a forced entry. This means, if an individual enters another’s a residence or commercial property with the intention of stealing an item of any value without the use of force, he would be still charged for the crime. One more thing that is worth mentioning here is, apart from burglary, there are vandalism and trespassing offenses as well with which the intruder can be charged with.

Physically entering a structure is most commonly known as breaking and entering in the state of California.

“Breaking” in simple terms means gaining entry into another’s premise or property directly, indirectly, completely or partially either by using force or crawling inside without applying any amount of force. In California, breaking and entering is associated with burglary; here are some examples to help you understand what breaking and entering include in the state:

 Criminal Records California

  • Walking straight into your neighbor’s garage to steal his auto tools
  • Breaking a parked car window to steal a mobile phone on the dashboard
  • Entering a closed business establishment
  • Breaking into a business storage unit to steal an item

California Breaking and Entering Law Includes:


First-degree burglary where a person gains entry into an inhabited structure to commit a felony

Second-degree burglary where a person gains entry into premises other than residences such as boats, vehicles or commercial buildings


According to the Californian law (Penal code 602), it is unlawful to enter another person’s property with the intention of interfering in their property rights. This may be:

  • Occupying the premise without consent
  • Causing damage to the property
  • Refusing to quit the premise
  • If it is a business property, interfering with the conducting of the business


According to the Californian Vandalism law, it is unlawful to damage, deface or destroy another’s property. Using force to enter into a property/building is vandalism, provided the same is damaged. For instance, breaking a door or window to gain entry into a structure is considered vandalism. One more thing to be noted here; if a person throws a stone and breaks a window with the intention of entering but doesn’t enter due to some reason, he could not be charged with breaking and entering offense but he can be certainly charged with vandalism.

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Punishment for Breaking and Entering in California

First-degree burglary is a felony in California. The penalty for such a crime could be:

  • A 2/4/6-year sentence in a prison run by the state
  • A strike on the record of the defendant

Penalty for a second-degree burglary could be:

  • A one-year sentence in a country prison
  • $1000 fine

Breaking and Entering Law: Defenses

Breaking and entering in California is a serious offense. However, there are certain defenses that can be used against the charges.

  • No entry: The person charged with burglary can prove that he neither entered the building fully nor partially
  • No intent: The individual can provide evidence or prove that he had no intention of committing a theft
  • Mistaken identity: The person charged with breaking and entering can prove with evidence, that he was not the individual that entered the structure/premises
  • Lack of evidence: The person can prove that the evidence against him is inconsistent or weak

Since breaking and entering laws in California are broad and include several terms and regulations, it is best advised for the residents to have at least a basic understanding of the same. However, if the need arises, it is always safe to consult a legal expert.

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