Commercial Burglary


A commercial burglary charge has the potential to turn your life upside down. Maybe you walked into a warehouse or school where you work and took an item you thought belonged to you. Maybe you got distracted by a phone call and forgot to pay for a new power tool at the home improvement store. Or perhaps you were faced with trying circumstances and had a lapse of judgment.

Luckily, an accomplished, well-informed San Diego burglary and robbery lawyer can help you understand the charges, navigate the situation, and potentially find an amicable solution for your burglary charge.

What is Commercial Burglary?

Second-degree burglary, also known as commercial burglary, occurs when someone enters property with the intent to commit a felony.

“Property,” in this instance,” is considered any building or structure where someone generally does not live, such as a bank, school, warehouse, or department store. Someone does not need to force their way into a building for it to count as burglary.

What Are Some Examples of Commercial Burglary?

Commercial burglary may take place when someone:

  • Walks into a home improvement store with scissors, which are then used to cut price tags or security devices off expensive items, and steals those items
  • Enters a department store and steals merchandise using an empty bag they brought along
  • Shoplifts from a grocery store and doesn’t have any forms of payment when caught

Each of the above examples highlight items (scissors, empty bag) or circumstances (not bringing a valid form of payment to a store) that may display intent, which is a key component when prosecutors attempt to prove commercial burglary.

How Can A Prosecutor Prove Commercial Burglary?

In trying to prove that someone committed commercial burglary, a prosecutor must demonstrate that the accused entered a building with the intent to commit another crime.

If a prosecutor can’t prove intent, they may press other charges, including trespassing.

What Are Some Common Defenses Against A Commercial Burglary Charge?

There are many defenses against a commercial burglary charge. They include:

  • Intent: This is one of the primary elements in determining whether commercial burglary occurs. If you enter the building or structure without planning to commit another crime (such as forgetting to pay for an item), you are not committing burglary.
  • Lying: If you had a disagreement with your accuser, they may formulate their story as a means of retribution.
  • Claim of right: You are not committing burglary if you entered the building and took a piece of property that you believed belonged to you.

How is Commercial Burglary Punished?

Commercial burglary may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the prosecutor’s decision. Possible penalties may include the following:

  • Those convicted of misdemeanor commercial burglary can be punished with up to one year in county jail.
  • Those convicted of felony commercial burglary can face up to three years in county jail.
  • Commercial burglary does not fall under California’s Three Strikes Law; conviction will not count toward someone’s three strikes.

What Should You Do If You Face A Commercial Burglary Charge?

If you (or a close friend or family member) are charged with commercial burglary, it is important to contact a seasoned California robbery attorney who can attempt to reduce or even dismiss your charges.

If you are facing commercial burglary charges, call San Diego criminal law firm McElfresh Law, Inc. today for a free legal case evaluation. The penalties for commercial burglary are steep, so find out how the law firm may be able to help. Every case is unique. California lawyer Jessica McElfresh can review the facts of your case, explain your options for a defense, and tell you what to expect from the legal process. Call (858) 756-7107 today.