Cal. Penal Code § 459 Burglary, and § 459.5 Shoplifting
Burglary is entering a building (or vehicle) with the intent to steal or commit some other felony. Burglary of a “dwelling” is first degree and punishable by up to six years in state prison. All other burglary is second degree and a “wobbler” meaning it may be charged as a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail, or as a felony with up to three years in jail.
The crime of burglary is complete upon entry into the building – some form of penetration into the structure, either with a part of the body or an instrument. As long as this is done with the intent to steal, or commit some other felony, the crime is complete the instant the entry occurs. Nothing need be stolen, nor any other crime committed within the structure. Entry can be accomplished simply by entering the “outer boundary” such as on a balcony, or within a window screen.
For first degree burglary to apply, the building must be “inhabited.” This is broadly interpreted. No one needs to be present in the building at the time of the entry; the building must simply be a place where someone sleeps – whether they have a right to sleep there or not. A laundry facility attached to an apartment building was held to be inhabited since it was a common area within the building where people lived.
If someone is present in the structure at the time of the entry, the burglary is elevated to a “violent” felony under § 667.5 and the crime becomes a “strike.” Among other things, this requires the defendant to serve 85% of his sentence.
A car can be burglarized if it is locked, but there must be some amount of force used for entry, like pushing open a wing window, etc. The above rules apply, but, of course, if no one lives in the car, then it is not a dwelling and would be only second degree burglary.
A room within a building may be burglarized as long as the entry is unauthorized.
If there was no theft or other crime committed (or attempted), then the crime is trespass which is a misdemeanor.
Pen. Code § 459.5. Shoplifting is the entry of a commercial building with the intent to steal, if the value of the item(s) stolen, or intended to be stolen, do(es) not value more than $950. This is a misdemeanor, unless there are multiple prior burglaries which can elevate this crime to a felony up to three years served in jail. This is by far the most common burglary crime and a first offender is usually eligible for a diversion.
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