First And Second Degree Burglary

Penal Code section 459

A person commits burglary by entering into any building, room, store, vehicle, shipping container, or mine without permission and with the intent to commit theft or a felony inside. For example, a person who goes into someone else’s apartment in order to steal a laptop has committed burglary.

First Degree Burglary, also called Residential Burglary, involves entering an “inhabited” building or vehicle. “Inhabited” means currently being used for residential purposes, whether occupied or not. An inhabited building or vehicle does not need to be a person’s primary or regular residence. Vacation homes, apartments, houseboats, and RVs are all considered “inhabited” buildings or vehicles.

Second Degree Burglary is any other burglary not involving an inhabited building or vehicle.

First Degree Burglary is punishable by two, four, or six years in state prison.

Second Degree Burglary is a “wobbler” which means that the crime may be either a felony or a misdemeanor.


Penal Code section 215(a)

Carjacking is a much more serious crime than Vehicle Theft, Grand Theft, or Petty Theft. Carjacking is the taking of an automobile from its owner or from the owner’s immediate presence by force or fear. For example, a person who forces a driver out of a car at gunpoint commits carjacking. For carjacking, it does not matter whether the defendant intends to deprive the owner of the vehicle temporarily or permanently.

Carjacking is a felony that is punishable by three, five, or nine years in state prison.

Vehicle Theft

Vehicle Code section 10851(a)

Vehicle Theft is the driving or taking of a vehicle belonging to another without the owner’s consent, and with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle. One is not required to have the intent to steal the vehicle. For example, a person who takes a car and intends to sell it could be convicted of either this crime or Grand Theft Auto. However, a person who borrowed a friend’s car without permission and intending to return it could be convicted only of Vehicle Theft.

Vehicle Theft is a “wobbler” which means that the crime may be either a felony or a misdemeanor.


Penal Code section 211

Robbery is taking something from a person and using force, or the threat of force, to do it. Robbery, like theft, involves taking someone’s property without the owner’s consent, but it has some elements that theft doesn’t require.

You cannot commit a Robbery unless you take something from someone else. This includes taking property that someone else is holding, as well as taking property that is within his or her control. Property within someone else’s control includes, for example, property located in a safe that a convenient store employee can access.

Robbery is a violent crime, but that doesn’t mean the victim has to suffer any type of injury. It’s enough to commit a Robbery if you use any type of force to take property from someone. This includes taking property if you use the threat of violence. It also includes using violence or the threat of violence to take property that is under the victim’s control, even though it isn’t necessarily in that person’s possession. For example, forcing a bank clerk to open a bank vault to take money is Robbery, even though the clerk doesn’t physically possess the currency.

Robbery is a felony that is punishable by two, three, or five years in state prison.

Grand Theft

Penal Code section 487

Grand Theft is theft of any property with a value greater than $950. Additionally, the theft of certain types of property — such as firearms, livestock, and vehicles — automatically qualifies as Grand Theft, regardless of the dollar value of the property. For example, theft of a gun is always grand theft, even if the gun is only worth $150. A misdemeanor theft offense also can become a felony offense if the offender has a prior conviction for theft or a related offense or a serious or violent felony, or if the offender is a registered sex offender.

Grand Theft is a “wobbler” which means that the crime may be either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Petty Theft

Penal Code sections 488 & 490.1

Petty Theft is theft of any property with a value of $950 or less. Petty Theft is a misdemeanor if the theft is a result of the shoplifting offense and the offender has no prior criminal record. However, if the property has a value of $50 or less, the prosecutor can charge the offense as an infraction, so long as the offender has had no other theft-related conviction.

Petty Theft charged as a misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both.
Petty Theft charged as an infraction is punishable by a fine of no more than $250.

Receiving Stolen Property

Penal Code section 496(a)

Receiving Stolen Property occurs whenever you knowingly purchase, obtain, receive or possess any property that you know, or should know, is stolen, intending to keep it from the owner. For example, if you buy a television from a friend who tells you that he stole it from his employer, you are guilty of Receiving Stolen Property. Also, if you buy the television from a stranger selling electronics from the back of a van, you are also guilty of the crime because a reasonable person in your situation would suspect the TV was stolen. Further, if you receive property as a gift or store it in your home, knowing that it’s stolen or under circumstances that should have alerted you to its stolen nature, you’ve also committed a crime.

Receiving Stolen Property is a “wobbler” which means that the crime may be either a felony or a misdemeanor.