Burglary

Fake Pizza Delivery Leads to Home Invasion in Palo Alto (CA Penal Code 459)

There are many different ways in which home invasions occur; this story, however, is one of the strangest yet. Allegedly, a family of 5 were in their home on Arastradero Road in Palo Alto when someone rang the doorbell. According to witness statements, a man was standing near the doorway with a pizza box, insisting that a pie had been ordered. When the family’s grown daughter attempted to close the door, the ‘pizza delivery guy’ and 2 others forcibly entered the home. They were thwarted when the father appeared and seem to have simply run away without taking anything from the home or doing much harm otherwise than frightening the entire family. The suspects have yet to be apprehended, but will face home invasion charges if and when they are.

Pursuant to California Penal Code 459, a ‘burglary’ is said to have occurred when unwelcome persons enter the residence of another person without the permission of the person that lives there, and with the intent of committing a felony or petty theft.. When an individual or individuals break into a home or place of residence while the residents are at home, then it is considered first degree or ‘residential’ burglary. Normally, the penalties for this type of felony burglary charge includes up to 6 years in state prison. However, when a home invasion is concerned, the perpetrator or perpetrators may also be charged with criminal trespass (CA Penal Code 602) or aggravated trespass (CA Penal Code 601).

Placerville Man Arrested for Home Burglary (CA Penal Code 459)

Recently, in the middle of the day, a 44-year-old man from Placerville decided to burglarize a Petaluma residence.  He didn’t take any jewelry, cash, or other valuables.  Evidently, he proceeded right to the frozen tator tots, which he promptly ate.  After such a large meal, he felt it necessary to take a short doze on the family couch, where he was discovered shortly thereafter by none other than the homeowner herself.  She called the police and fled the home, waking the burglar as she went.  He ran but was later arrested for home burglary.

Whether tator tots or valuables are concerned, burglary is considered a serious crime by California law (CA Penal Code 459).  According to law, burglary (more commonly known as ‘breaking and entering’) does not require the actual theft of property, but only the attempt to commit such a felony.  The crime of burglary may either be considered ‘first-degree’ or ‘second-degree,’ each having its own set of consequences.

First-degree burglary is never considered a misdemeanor; it is treated as a felony without exception.  Additionally, first-degree burglary is said to have occurred when a building, apartment, home, or other place of human dwelling has been entered.  If the crime occurs at a business or other place where people do not live, then it is considered ‘second-degree’ burglary.  Clearly, the tator tot bandit will be subject to charges of ‘first-degree’ burglary, which carries with it a sentence of up to 6 years in prison and a strike under California’s “Three Strikes Law.”

Suspected Burglar Fatally Shot in Menlo Park (CA Penal Code 459)

At least 2 different burglaries (CA Penal Code 459) have resulted in the same number of shootings by homeowners.  While there is still question as to what the actual circumstances were in each of these cases, there remains the question:  will law enforcement officials pursue charges against either homeowner, as one of the 2 incidents resulted in a fatality. The one recovering suspect is still hospitalized but will likely face charges of burglary.

It may interest readers to know that the state of California includes some pretty heavy limitations when it comes to gun control.  More importantly, however, California provides, by law (CA Penal Code 198.5).  This particular provision is entitled the “Home Protection Bill of Rights” and it entitles homeowners to the protection of their homes during the course of a home invasion, robbery, or similar occurrence.  What it means is that if an individual person feels that they are in “imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self,” they may use force against another individual who has unlawfully entered the premises.

In other words, if you shoot and kill someone who has broken into your home because you feared for your life, prosecutors may attempt to charge you with murder, but they will likely not win the case.  To get a conviction, they must be able to prove that your life was not in danger or that you were not in danger of grave injury.  However, you should also keep in mind that any intruder who has been injured has the right to sue you for their injuries and the family of anyone that you fatally shoot has this right as well.

 

Late Beatle’s Gig Van Burglarized in San Francisco (CA Penal Code 459)

Sean Lennon may be most famous for being the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but there are a few people who know about his band, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger  (The GOASTT) an avant-garde folk duo with songs enigmatically titled things like “Schrodinger’s Cat” and “Xanadu” consists mainly of Lennon and his girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl.  The GOASTT’s van was parked close to Hayes and Franklin when someone smashed the passenger front window and took a laptop computer that belongs to another band member, Connor Grant.  The band was in San Francisco performing at the Great American Music Hall.

California Penal Code 459 covers the burglary of an automobile.  In order to be convicted of burglary, prosecutors must be able to prove that you intentionally entered the vehicle for the purposes of a) stealing the vehicle itself, b) committing some other felony, or c) taking something from the car.  This law is separate from the crimes of petty theft and grand theft, which are separate charges.  So, if you are the individual that smashed the window of The GOASTT’s van and took the laptop inside, you could be facing charges of second-degree burglary (which is a ‘wobbler, ‘ meaning that the prosecutor decides whether to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor).  If convicted on a misdemeanor charge, you might be looking at 1 year in county; however, if you are convicted on felony charges pursuant to this law, you may spend up to 3 years in state prison.  Let’s hope that The GOASTT’s lawyers are as mellow as their music.

 

Retired Couple Terrified by Home Invasion Burglary in Sunnyvale (CA Penal Code 459)

Neither 83-year-old wife (name withheld in order to protect privacy) a retired librarian, and her 91-year-old husband, a retired electrical engineer, haven’t quite figured out the reason for what happened to them this past weekend.  On Friday evening, she discovered a confused-looking man sitting on one of her front porch lawn chairs.  They had a short discussion and the man left.  Sunday night, however, the man returned, broke into their home, and stole everything of value while he kept a gun trained on the frightened elderly couple.  The intruder even made off with wedding bands, her engagement ring, and a watch (from his past employer) that was special to him. The couple was understandably distraught and believed themselves in great danger from this clearly disturbed man.  Local law enforcement officials are still looking for the suspect, a Latino man in his mid to late 30’s.

Although the suspect has yet to be identified in this case, when he is caught, he will be subject to California’s unforgiving home invasion (residential burglary) laws.  When a person commits burglary through invasion of another person’s residence (or hotel, or anywhere people live), it is nearly always considered first degree burglary (CA Penal Code 459).  Additionally, when a crime such as this occurs, it is always prosecuted as a felony.  Penalties include up to 6 years in a state prison and a strike under California’s “Three Strikes” law.

 

Would-Be Casanova Arrested at San Mateo Bar for Burglary (CA Penal Code 459)

It was a normal Saturday night down at the Curry Up on South B Street in San Mateo and 22-year-old female bartender (name withheld in order to protect privacy) had no idea that accepting the phone number of a patron, 31-year-old man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) of Burlingame, would later lead to his arrest.  The problem was that he didn’t just want a date, he allegedly wanted to commit robbery.

Not long after giving his number, he returned to the Indian restaurant and was caught stealing a television and some other electronic devices using the rear door as access.  Eyewitnesses, members of the Curry Up wait staff, realized that this was the same man who had tried to seduce her earlier with his charms.  So, what did local law enforcement officials do?  They decided to text him as the bartender and ask him out on the date he seemed to so desperately want.  When he showed up, they arrested him, having found the stolen merchandise in his residence.

(CA Penal Code 459) makes burglary illegal.  Here, ‘burglary’ is defined as gaining entrance illegally to any locked vehicle, building, or room with the purpose of stealing something inside.  In fact, you can be charged with burglary even if you did not force your way into the vehicle, building, etc.  If the burglary is committed in a residence, this is considered first degree burglary.  A conviction on first degree burglary charges could mean up to 6 years in state prison.  Second degree commercial burglary charges could end in two ways (wobbler).  If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, it could mean 1 year in county jail; if prosecuted as a felony, you could face up to 3 years in state prison.

 

San Francisco International Airport: Woman Caught for Third Time Attempting to Stow Away on Plane (CA Penal Code 459)

San Francisco International Airport is a busy hub of activity.  At first, no one noticed the sweet, grandmotherly woman who managed to board an airplane bound for Hawaii in February of this year.  The problem?  She didn’t have a ticket.  She tried to board another plane 3 days later, but was caught by authorities and told never to return.  A court order solidified the airport’s position.  Still, 62-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) tried a third time to board a plane without a ticket and was finally arrested on the scene.

Some might argue that this elderly woman is simply confused.  She told airport officials that she is ill with cancer and was trying to travel to warmer climates.  No one knows whether her story is true.   What we do know is that she pled no contest to 2 counts of misdemeanor commercial burglary for the price of the plane ticket.

California burglary laws are set forth in (CA Penal Code 459).  Technically, what she did could be considered ‘breaking and entering’ as she boarded a plane without having paid for that privilege.  Another example of a ‘burglary’ crime of this nature would be walking into a bank and cashing a check that you already know is bad.  In other words, you don’t have to actually break into a place of business in order to be charged with burglary.  In California, commercial burglary is also known as second degree burglary.  Here, ‘commercial’ means anywhere that is not a residence, like a business or store.  This crime may be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or as a felony (a ‘wobbler’).  A conviction for second degree misdemeanor burglary means the possibility of 1 year maximum in county jail; a felony conviction could mean up to 3 years in state prison.  Certainly, investigations will be made into her mental state before sentencing.

 

Neighbor Charged with Possession of Stolen Property and Burglarizing Nearby Pleasanton Homes (CA Penal Code 459 and 496)

About a month ago, residents of Canyon Meadows Circle were experiencing something quite out of the ordinary for their normally quiet street, burglaries.  From cameras to couches to clothing, the thief would enter their homes and leave with the loot.  So, in true modern-day vigilante mode, they did the only thing they could do: install video cameras in an effort to catch the cat burglar red-handed.  As they eagerly watched the tapes for a sign of their stolen property, they received quite a shock.  There on the video footage was their neighbor, 39-year-old (name withheld to protect the anonymity of the accused) and she was wearing pajamas and slippers from a previous break-in.

Of course, the Canyon Meadows Circle residents immediately contacted local law enforcement representatives and a search of her home was then conducted.  All of the missing items from the burglary were found there, including home décor and furniture that she evidently used in her home.  She was arrested on charges of residential burglary, otherwise known as “first degree” burglary (CA Penal Code 459) and possession of stolen property (CA Penal Code 496).  On the burglary charge, she could be looking at up to 6 years in state prison and a strike on her record. The charges pursuant to (CA Penal Code 496) are considered a “wobbler” in that this crime could be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Depending on the value of the stolen property, below $400 is often considered a misdemeanor and greater than $400 a felony.  Interestingly, in the state of California, a person cannot be convicted of both theft and possession of stolen property.  Still, she could face somewhere between 1 and 3 years in state prison on this second charge.

 

Bay Area Man Acquitted of Breaking & Entering in His Shared Home (CA Penal Code §459)

Everyone can agree that 31-year-old Christopher Hall had a bad couple of weeks.  At first, everything seemed like a Bay area love story.  Hall met a 34-year-old woman at a hacky-sack circle and, two weeks later, the two were making plans to get married.   After a month or so, in March of 2013, Hall decided to break off the engagement, grabbed a few of his things from their shared home, and went off to Mclaren Park with plans to spend the night in a tree.  Later in the evening, Hall became too cold to remain in the tree and headed back home, deciding not to disturb his recently estranged fiancée, but instead to camp out in the backyard under a makeshift tent.

Unfortunately, Hall’s ex-fiancée had gone out to the movies with a new friend – a highly trained Marine.  When they returned from their night out, they heard Hall making noises in the backyard and assumed it was an intruder. Armed with household items like a kitchen knife and a frying pan, they went out to investigate.  Upon seeing the pair walking toward him with these weapons, Hall began to yell and chased them to the back door, where his fiancée slammed the glass-paned entrance in his face – his hand went through a pane.  From there, a short scuffle with the Marine occurred, with Hall in a headlock and the ex-fiancée running to get a neighbor, who was armed with a can of bear repellent.  The neighbor, having been told that Hall was trying to murder the Marine, sprayed Hall and the authorities were called.

Hall was acquitted of the charges against him, mainly because they were unsubstantiated claims.  A person cannot be found guilty of “breaking and entering” (in California law, this is actually a charge of “burglary,” pursuant to CA Penal Code §45 when they happen to live in the building in question. Furthermore, Hall could prove that he had not only paid rent toward the house, but had also made some improvements to the structure.  In this case, Hall was convicted of only a simple misdemeanor count of vandalism and, hopefully, learned a more important lesson about relationships from the whole affair. If convicted of the burglary charges, he could have faced up to 7 years in state prison.

Juvenile Accused of Rape of Intoxicated Woman in Morgan Hill (CA Penal Code §261(3))

After a night of drinking, a woman (40) decided to do what she thought was the responsible thing and take a taxicab home.  However, she was so intoxicated that, once they arrived at her residence, the cab driver needed some help getting her into her home.  A woman and her son (16-years-old) offered their assistance.  So far, this seems like the story of two good Samaritans who, without any good reason, wanted to help a neighbor.

However, the 16-year-old son has been accused of returning to the woman’s house later that evening, raping her, and then bringing two other juveniles (one of them his 15-year-old girlfriend, into the picture to rob the residence.  The case deepened when police found the 40-year-old woman’s property at the boy’s home.   All three juveniles have been charged with violation of juvenile probation, residential burglary (CA Penal Code §459), and conspiracy (CA Penal Code §182).  And the boy who helped the drunk woman into her home originally?  He has also been accused of rape of an intoxicated person.

This brings up an interesting legal debate, however.  California law states that any person who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual intercourse (CA Penal Code §261(3)).  Furthermore, the person accused of rape must be proven to have “reasonably known” that the victim’s judgment was impaired.  Members of the public have argued that these provisions are too broad – allowing any man or woman the ability to claim that they were too drunk to have consensual sex and creating rape charges out of seemingly thin air.  Clearly, this law is meant to protect individuals from sexual assault; however, it is also certain that additional provisions ought to be made within the law as being intoxicated does not relieve a person of responsibility for their own actions.  Just ask anyone who has been arrested for a California DUI.