San Francisco Criminal Defense Law Firm
As an attorney from a criminal defense law firm in San Francisco knows, the crime of burglary is fairly common in California, but it is very easy for the average person to be confused as to whether they have committed burglary, trespass, or another type of related crime. If you have been caught inside the home or other private dwelling of another person, and charged with a crime, understanding the nature of what you have been charged with can be crucial in trying to negotiate your way through the process.
Historically, a burglary was often defined as breaking into a home or dwelling with the intent to commit a felony. Many states have relaxed those standards somewhat, nowadays only requiring intent to commit a crime (whether misdemeanor or felony). Sometimes there is confusion as to what exactly constitutes a ‘dwelling,’ but most often it is defined as any building where someone sleeps at night (whether or not they are actually present when the crime was committed).
The specific wording of a state’s burglary statute does matter – if you, for example, broke into a building with the intent to steal, but the building was entirely abandoned, an attorney from a San Francisco criminal defense law firm may be able to argue that no one either lived there or intended to sleep there at night. If that was true, you could not be found guilty of burglary because the place you broke into was not a ‘building’ or a ‘dwelling’ under the meaning of the statute.
Trespass Requires Less
By comparison with burglary, the offense of trespass is viewed as less serious but still requires the appropriate legal handling. While burglary is a crime (depending on specifics), simple trespass is an infraction, and criminal trespass is usually a misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of both jail time and significant fines. Simple trespass means that a person enters land or a building without permission from the owner, and is punished by a fine, with no jail time.
Criminal trespass is most often the charge when simple trespass turns into something else – for example, if the offender refuses to leave after being ordered to, or if they are in violation of a restraining order. This is also the case if the trespass happens for the purpose of hunting, fishing, or trapping – essentially, trespassing in order to take something off the land. Criminal trespass can carry jail time, though it does not have to, with the right criminal defense attorney San Francisco CA offers on the case.
Call a San Francisco Criminal Defense Law Firm for Help
Burglary and trespass are offenses with separate types of criminal intent required, so if you have been charged with either one, it is crucial to understand what the prosecution needs to prove to convict you. If you have questions, contacting the San Francisco criminal defense law firm of The Morales Law Firm is a good idea. Attorney Morales is well versed in this area of law and will work hard to make sure you get your day in court. Call our offices today for a free consultation.