Allegations on burglary of a safe or vault or any other safe place can lead to severe penalties in California if found guilty. You’ll need services of a knowledgeable and skilled attorney like the California Criminal Lawyer Group to protect your legal rights and interests if you want to avoid these penalties or reduce the possible punishments.
Burglary of a Safe or Vault Overview
Burglary laws in California protect people's properties and privacy because, in burglary, you don’t have to take another person’s property to be guilty of the crime. You will be guilty of burglary if you enter another person’s premises or business without permission to steal once there even if you do not accomplish your mission. Penalties for burglary crimes in California vary depending on the circumstances of the crime and how the burglar did the crime.
Burglary of a Vault is a criminal offense under California penal code 464; it’s also known as safe blowing. A person is guilty for violation of penal code 464 if he/she enters another room in the same building, another building, or store with the intent to commit a criminal offense by using explosives or a torch to open a secure place or vault. Even if you did not succeed in taking what was in the vault, you would be guilty for violation of penal code 464 as long as you intended to take it and deny the owner its value.
In California, burglary of a vault or safe can lead to felony charges regardless of the location where the safe or vault was. The vault owner could choose to file criminal charges for burglary of vault even if he/she was not at home when the defendant was trespassing. Victims of this form of theft crime allegations should seek services of a reliable criminal defense attorney for legal representation in case of a prosecution, which is always the routine with burglary crimes.
Classifications of Burglary Involving a Vault or Safe in California
According to California penal code 459, burglary crime falls under two classifications, depending on the crime scene’s location. These classifications of burglary determine the type of penalty the offender will receive for violation of penal code 459, which applies even in safe or vault burglary. Below are classifications of burglary in California:
First Degree Burglary
The defendant would be guilty of the first-degree burglary if the vault or safe were inside an inhabited residence even if the owner was not present during the occurrence of the crime. In this case, the residence can be either of the following:
- A house with dwellers
- A boat with dwellers
- A trailer coach with occupants
- A hotel or motel with occupants
- A room with dwellers
Burglary of a vault in either of the above residence places, whether during the day or at night, is a serious felony offense under California burglary laws. First-degree burglary is also known as residential burglary.
Second Degree Burglary
Second-degree burglary penalties are not as severe as the first-degree burglary. The prosecutor would file your theft case as a second-degree burglary if the burglary of a vault offense took place in a business area or store. Second-degree burglary is a misdemeanor offense in California; however, the prosecutor might choose to file the case as a felony offense depending on the circumstances surrounding it.
Criminal charges for burglary of a vault will be overwhelming to fight on your own even if the prosecutor files the case a misdemeanor. Any type of criminal conviction can negatively affect your reputation, especially if you’re searching for a job or a political position. You must hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer for legal representation after police arrest due to allegations on burglary of a vault or safe. If you did the crime or not, it’s always wise to have a criminal defense attorney by your side through the whole prosecution process.
Elements of Crime in Burglary of Safe or Vault Case
There are certain essential elements that the prosecutor must prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of violating California penal code 464. Below are crucial crime elements the prosecutor must demonstrate to the jury for you to be guilty of burglary of a vault or a safe:
The Defendant Got into Another Person’s Dwelling
The defendant is only guilty of burglary of a vault or safe if he/she got into another person’s house or business area without permission during the day or at night. If another person buys the property that was in the safe, he/she will not be guilty of burglary of a vault because he/she did not get into any house or dwelling to get the property. However, handling stolen property can lead to different charges under California penal code 496, which makes it a criminal offense to conceal or receive stolen property consciously.
Intent to Commit a Crime
After proving the defendant got into a particular dwelling, the prosecutor must also show that the defendant had intent or motive to commit a burglary crime. Just like in most theft crimes, even in burglary of a vault offense, the defendant will be guilty for violation of penal code 464 as long as he/she had the intent to commit the crime even if he/she did not do any physical acts of theft.
Video surveillance of the crime scene and how you got access into the secured area where the vault was can go a long way in proving whether the defendant intended to commit a burglary of a safe or vault. A surveillance video can demonstrate to the jury that you were nervous before getting access to the secured area, which only means that you had the intent to commit the burglary.
Opened or Attempted to Open a Vault or Safe
You’ll be guilty for violation of penal code 464 if you attempted or opened the safe/vault, which was in a restricted area. Opening a vault or attempting to open it is another vital element essential for prosecution in a burglary of vault crime. The prosecutor will rely on the eyewitness’s testimonies and camera footage to demonstrate to the jury that you did a burglary of a vault. It doesn’t matter if you broke into the safe/vault successfully as long as you attempted to break into it will have you guilty for violation of penal code 464.
The Defendant Used Explosives or Torch to Break the Vault/Safe
Vaults or safe is a valuable property storage place which is often made of metal or steel to keep it secure from unauthorized people. Burglars of a safe or vault use explosives or torch materials to blow or crack the vault safely. The use of such tools to blow or crack a safe/vault increases the defendant's chances of conviction for burglary of a safe.
The prosecutor might also choose to file your case as possession of burglary tools, which is a misdemeanor offense under California penal code 466 when he/she cannot prove you had full intent to commit a burglary of a vault.
As long as you attempted to open a vault using burglary tools mentioned in the penal code 466, it will be enough evidence to convict you for burglary of a safe even if you did not succeed. A criminal defense attorney will gather pieces of evidence surrounding the case to create solid grounds for legal defenses to protect you from conviction and possible sentencing enhancements. Your prosecutor will rely on these elements of the crime to build up your case for burglary of a vault or safe.
Penalties for Violation of California Penal Code 464
Burglary of a vault or a safe using explosives or a torch qualifies as a felony offense in California, resulting in harsh penalties and fines if the court finds you guilty of the criminal offense. A skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney will know the best viable legal defense mechanism to use to protect you from conviction or reduce the burglary of a vault charges to lesser criminal offenses like possession of burglary tools, which is a misdemeanor. Below are examples of penalties the defendant might receive for violation of penal code 464:
In California, formal probation is always a suitable sentence for some felony offenses like burglary of a vault or safe, which allows felons to serve their sentence out of prison but under the supervision of the assigned probation officer. However, not every felon qualifies for this alternative form of imprisonment because of the criminal history and severity of the burglary crime the defendant committed.
The defendant can serve a probation term of about three to five years while under probation conditions. These include paying reimbursement to the victim and reporting to the probation officer regularly. Defendants who violate formal probation conditions can face harsher penalties if the judge decides to modify the sentence terms. The judge might even choose to revoke the probation and send the defendant to the county jail for violating formal probation conditions.
Realignment Program Under California County Jail
The realignment program has been effective since the year 2011 after California residents chose to pass Assembly Bill 109 through votes. The realignment program applies to any felon who got a criminal sentence on or after 1st October 2011. The realignment program was put in place to divert offenders with less severe felony offenses from serving their sentences in state prisons to local county penitentiaries.
The purpose of the realignment program was to reduce overcrowding of inmates in state prisons. Burglary of a vault or any other secure place is a criminal offense that qualifies for a realignment program because it’s a non-violent and non-serious crime. Still, the sentencing period the judge chooses remains intact. However, people with serious criminal histories on their record cannot qualify for this kind of rehabilitation through realignment programs within communities because the court considers them to be dangerous.
A notorious defendant with a prior criminal history on burglary of a vault can face serious immigration consequences if he/she is not a citizen of the United States. Immigration laws of the United States allow victims of “deportable crimes” such as burglary of a safe to be deported from the country regardless of:
- How long the defendant has lived in the United States
- How established the defendant’s life is in the United States for instance if he/she has a home or business ownership
- Whether the defendant has children who are US citizens depending on him/her
- Whether the defendant is a green card holder, visa holder or a refugee
Burglary of a safe or vault crime increases the defendant’s chances of deportation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), especially if the crime’s nature is intense. Deportation consequences of the non-citizens in the US are very severe such that the defendant might not be able to get back to the country again after deportation.
On top of all those penalties, the judge might also impose an exception fine of up to $10,000 to the guilty defendant. You must seek a professional criminal defense attorney’s services to explain the odds available in your favor concerning burglary of vault allegations. Your criminal defense attorney will access all crucial details surrounding the case to formulate a viable legal defense against the charges, maybe to a lesser penalty or fine.
Legal Defenses That a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Use in Burglary of a Vault of Safe Charges
As explained above, violation of penal code 464 is a criminal offense that can lead to severe penalties and fines you might never want to face. If you or someone you love faces burglary of vault charges, it’s always vital to hire a criminal defense attorney who will ensure your interests and legal rights are protected. Below are viable legal defenses your criminal defense attorney can use in burglary of a vault or safe allegations:
Lack of Intent
The defendant should not be guilty for violation of penal code 464 if he/she didn’t have the specific intent to commit the crime when he/she got access to a particular building or business. You must have specific intent or motive to commit either California petty or grand theft before you even access a building or business for you to be guilty of burglary. For instance, if you steal a safe/vault and take it to another person to open it, he/she will not be guilty for violation of penal code 464 because he/she did not
enter the building where the safe was secured.
Sometimes the police might violate your legal rights as they try to solve your case on burglary of a vault. When that happens, the defendant might receive a wrongful arrest, which is unnecessary because there is no evidence to prove that you violated penal code 464. A police officer misconduct happens when they abuse their power by doing either of the following:
- Force the defendant to confess guilty of the crime
- Conducts unlawful search in your premises
- Use unnecessary pepper spray or tasers on their subjects
You’ll need a skilled criminal defense attorney to prove the above actions of police misconduct in your case to increase your chances of winning the burglary of a vault case.
Claim of Right
The claim of right is also a common defense for burglary of a vault case. The defendant would not be guilty for burglary of a vault or safe if he/she left something in the premises that he/she had gone back to retrieve. Suppose your criminal defense attorney can demonstrate to the jury that you had gone to retrieve something that belonged to you when you entered a particular building. In that case, you’ll not be guilty of the violation of California penal code 464.
People get convicted because of a mistaken identity issue every day in California due to the absence of proper legal representation. If you’re confident you did not commit the alleged crime, you should consider having a criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges to avoid the possible conviction for a theft crime you didn’t commit. Mistaken identity often happens because of misleading eyewitnesses’ information, for instance, physical descriptions or dressing.
The court acknowledges the possibility of mistaken identity because someone might choose to blame you for committing burglary of a vault crime to hide/cover up their liability of the crime. The court will accept this form of criminal defense if there is misleading evidence or false allegations against you. If this criminal defense mechanism is viable, your prosecutor might choose to reduce the charges for burglary of a vault or have the case against you dropped.
Criminal Offenses Related to Burglary of a Vault or Safe
Even if your criminal defense attorney succeeds in defending you against burglary of a vault crime, the prosecutor might choose to file other related offenses against you. Below are other criminal offenses related to the burglary of a safe or vault crime as per California penal code 464:
Possession of Burglary Tools
Sometimes when the prosecutor lacks enough evidence to convict the defendant for violation of penal code 464, he/she might choose to file criminal charges against you if you had burglary tools, which is an independent crime under California law. Penal code 466 makes it a criminal offense to possess or own burglary tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, or crowbars with intent to commit a criminal offense.
The defendant might be guilty for possession of burglary tools as per penal code 466 PC if he/she had any tool that qualifies as burglary tools, which he/she had intended to use to commit a misdemeanor offense. A prosecutor can file charges for violation of penal code 464 and 466 at the same time. Therefore, you should always retain a reliable criminal defense attorney if you fall victim to such allegations to avoid possible severe penalties for both crimes.
According to California penal code 602, trespass involves entering another person’s property or premises without their authority or consent. Unlike burglary crime, which focuses on whether the defendant had the intent to commit a crime or not, in a trespass crime, the court focuses on whether the property owner had consent for your presence on his/her premises or not. If you got into another building without authority to do so, you would be guilty of trespassing even if you had no intent to commit a theft crime or felony. Most people facing burglary of vault charges fight the allegations with the help of a criminal defense attorney to reduce the charges to a less severe crime like trespass, which is a misdemeanor offense.
Alongside burglary of a vault crime, the defendant may also face charges for a robbery, which is always a felony offense in California if he/she used fear or intimidation to acquire another person’s property. The prosecutor will need to demonstrate the following elements of this crime to convict you guilty for violation of penal code 211:
- Took another person’s property
- The property you took was not yours
- You took another person’s property against their will or consent
- Used significant fear or intimidation to acquire another person’s property
- Your intentions when you took the other person’s property was to deprive the owner of its value by keeping it for a long time
Note that the prosecutor can file charges for burglary of a vault alongside robbery if you did the above actions which portray robbery. However, it’s upon the judge to determine if those allegations are factual or not depending on the types of evidence the prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney demonstrate to the jury.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
The focus and determination of the California Criminal Lawyer Group in defending victims of criminal offenses such as burglary of a safe or vault have made us outstanding in California because of our top-notch services to our clients. Contact us at 408-622-0204 to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing these charges.