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San Diego Burglary & Robbery 
Defense Attorney

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer | Zentz &  Zentz

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Formulate a San Diego Burglary Defense

Burglary and robbery are serious charges to face in California. You will need to have a clear idea of what could happen to you if the court convicts you of these crimes. You also need to understand what each crime is and how to defend against them.

A San Diego burglary and robbery defense attorney is your best choice in putting forth a solid case in court. Your lawyer can assist you with understanding the charges and figuring out the best way to defend against them. You may also need your defense attorney to assist you with possible issues that could result from the three strikes law.

The attorneys at Zentz & Zentz have years of experience providing San Diego, CA-area clients with robust criminal defense representation in a wide range of cases, including those involving burglary and robbery. We understand that defendants accused of these offenses can easily feel hopeless and alienated after arrest, and our job is to help these individuals approach their cases with greater understanding and confidence. When you choose Zentz & Zentz to represent you as your burglary and robbery defense attorneys, we will extend the full scope of our professional resources and experience to you in handling your defense.

Burglary vs. Robbery

Burglary and robbery are two separate crimes under California law. They are both theft crimes, and they often occur together. However, it is possible to face only one of these charges.

Robbery is taking someone else's property by force or fear. It is a violent crime and can be a felony of the first or second degree. The prosecutor must show that you took someone else's property from their immediate possession without their permission while using force or fear to prevent the person from stopping you. The elements here include:

• Taking someone else's property
• Must be in the person's immediate possession
• Must take against the person's wishes
• Must use force or fear

Note that in this situation, fear means that the person is afraid you will harm them or someone else if they do not give you the property. Also, immediate possession means that the person is present and you take the property from them.

Robbery can become the more severe crime of armed robbery if you use a weapon or threaten to use a weapon during the course of the crime. Any incident of robbery involving a weapon will dramatically escalate the penalties the defendant faces, and in some cases, this type of behavior can result in multiple charges. For example, armed robbery is a much more severe criminal offense than standard robbery. If the aggressor harms the victim in any way, the charges can escalate to assault and battery or assault with a deadly weapon. It is also possible for the defendant to face additional charges for firearms violations if they used any firearm in the robbery in question.

Burglary is entering a property with the intent to commit a crime. It does not have to be entering without permission, as shoplifting is a type of burglary and you have permission to enter the store. The main element here is that you are entering a structure with the sole intent of doing something illegal. Structures can include locked vehicles.

Burglary is usually a first- or second-degree felony. The exception is shoplifting, which is a misdemeanor as long as the value of the property is under $950.

Burglary can become a violent felony if the structure is an occupied home where an occupant is present at the time you entered. In the event that a burglar enters an occupied residence without the owner’s permission with the intent to steal the owner’s belongings and the owner realizes what is happening, the incident can quickly escalate to a violent encounter. The burglar could potentially face assault charges and other criminal charges depending on the severity of their behavior in this situation.

Potential Penalties for Theft Crimes

Your San Diego robbery and burglary defense attorney will advise you of the potential penalties if the court finds you guilty and explain any exceptions or enhancements. There are basic penalties under the law, but the court often has leeway to change sentencing as it sees fit.

The potential penalty for first-degree robbery is up to six years in prison. If the conviction is for burglary of a habitable dwelling, then the sentence could be for up to nine years in prison. A second-degree conviction comes with a potential for up to five years in prison. Potential fines up to $10,000 apply for any robbery conviction.

The court may enhance your sentence if great bodily injury occurs during the commission of the crime. This can add three to six years to your sentence. The court may also add 10 years if you use a gun. If you fire the gun, the court can add 20 years, and if you injure or kill someone with the gun, then you face a sentence of an additional 25 years. Also, all robbery charges result in a strike.

For burglary of the first degree, you face a potential of six years in prison and you will get a strike. A second-degree charge carries up to one year in jail. For a misdemeanor charge, the sentence can be up to six months in jail. The court can also give you probation for any conviction unless you enter a habitable dwelling.

The court can also enhance burglary charges if you have a previous felony conviction. It can add one year for every felony conviction you have on your record. California also enforces a three strikes rule, meaning that anyone who is convicted of three felonies will face 25 years to life in prison upon conviction of their third felony. It does not matter if the third felony was nonviolent in nature; a third felony conviction of any kind within any timeframe in California will qualify for punishment under this rule.

Conviction of certain crimes in California can also entail additional consequences for your personal and professional life beyond the court’s sentencing. For example, you could lose any professional licenses you hold or face extended suspension, preventing you from continuing your career. Felony charges can also lead to a loss of custody rights or your right to possess firearms. Depending on the nature of the offense for which you are convicted, you may also need to attend mandatory psychological counseling, rehabilitation, and mandated educational courses during probation. Ultimately, any felony conviction can have dramatic consequences on many aspects of your life and affect you for years to come. If you have been charged with robbery or burglary in San Diego County, it is vital to secure criminal defense representation as soon as possible.

Defending Against Theft Charges

The stakes are very high with any robbery charge and a first-degree burglary charge because they cause strikes on your record. The California three strikes law says that if you have three convictions for a serious or violent felony, the court must automatically sentence you to at least 25 years in prison. It can assess up to a lifetime prison sentence under this law.

Even if you do not have to worry about your strikes at this time, you could get a strike that puts you at risk in the future. It is imperative that you discuss this with your lawyer, so they are aware of your situation.

Your San Diego robbery lawyer can mount certain defenses for you that could help you win your case or face a reduced sentence. Common defenses include believing that the property was yours or that you had the right to take it. Another defense is that you did not use fear or force or that you accidentally took the property.

Your burglary defense attorney may use the defense that you had no intent to commit a crime when entering a structure or that you entered the structure to take items belonging to you.

For either charge, common defenses that your lawyer may use include mistaken identity or insufficient evidence. In both cases, your lawyer is showing that the prosecution has failed to put together an effective case and lacks the ability to show that you committed the crime or left the door open for doubt that it was you.

It is also possible for your defense attorney to call the validity of your case into question at the foundational level if there is any evidence that suggests the police mishandled your case in any way. This could include:

Failure to read you your Miranda rights. Whenever an American police officer conducts an arrest, they must read the suspect their Miranda rights, informing them that they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
Failure to establish probable cause. Police may only conduct an arrest of an individual if they have established probable cause to do so. For example, if the police receive a report of a burglary in your area and you are simply walking home from the store when the police stop and arrest you, this will constitute profiling and failure to establish probable cause.
Violations of constitutional rights. In the event the arresting officers mistreat, abuse, or otherwise violate the constitutional rights of a suspect during their arrest or booking, this may be enough to have their case thrown out of court.
Mishandling of evidence. If your case involves any physical evidence, the police must follow appropriate procedures when storing and handling it. Any missteps in these responsibilities could lead to the evidence in question being designated inadmissible.
Retrieval of owned property. You cannot be accused of robbery or burglary if you are attempting to retake property you loaned to someone else. However, it is best to handle these situations by speaking with the other person instead of attempting to forcibly take your property back or entering their property without their permission to retrieve your property.

These are just a few examples of the potential defenses you could use to prove your innocence and avoid a conviction for robbery or burglary. However, if you know that you did indeed commit a crime, your attorney can help you by assisting in the plea-bargaining process. Plea bargaining is essentially a negotiation between the prosecution and the defense. In exchange for a guilty plea and swifter legal proceedings, the defendant may have their charges reduced to lesser offenses with less severe penalties. Plea bargaining could mean the difference between misdemeanor and felony charges in some cases. Most prosecutors seek plea bargaining because it helps to preserve court resources and prevents protracted court battles.

Why Should I Hire a Private Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Every American citizen has the right to legal representation when they are charged with a crime. If they cannot afford an attorney or do not wish to pay for a private defense attorney, the court can provide them with a public defender. Most public defenders are committed, capable attorneys, but the nature of their work requires them to manage several cases at a time. This typically prevents them from providing much to their clients in the way of personalized attention. If you can afford a private defense attorney, you can expect a much higher level of legal representation than the best public defenders can provide.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys can leverage many professional resources on behalf of their clients. They may consult expert witnesses to explain highly technical, medical, scientific, or otherwise complex elements of a case in a way the judge and jury can easily understand. Expert witnesses may also assist in proving the defendant’s state of mind when they committed the criminal act in question. While a public defender may only be able to provide you with an hour or two of their time per day in handling your case, you can generally expect much more robust legal counsel from a private defense attorney.

Secure a Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Case

If you are facing burglary or robbery charges, then you need to secure a defense attorney right away. Having someone fight for you is the best way to ensure you have a fair trial and that the court hears your side. You can contact us today to speak with a San Diego burglary attorney or to a lawyer about your robbery case at 702-800-3190. You can also use our contact page to get in touch with a qualified legal representative today.

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