California P.C. 459: Commercial Burglary

In California, commercial burglary is defined under P.C. 459 as the entry into any building structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft crime therein. What sets commercial burglary apart from residential burglary is that the structure entered was commercial, a broadly defined term – e.g., store, storage unit, buildings, etc. Aside from the structural characteristic, residential burglary and commercial burglary are closely alike only commercial burglary is not as severe. Often times, a skilled criminal defense attorney can reduce a commercial burglary charge to simple petty theft thereby allowing the defendant to participate in a diversion programs and obtain a dismissal upon successful completion of the diversion program.

Contact Attorney John Rogers Immediately

Los Angeles Burglary Lawyer John Rogers is committed to providing each client aggressively, affordable, and trusted legal representation. Whether you’re charged with a minor offense or a serious felony, Mr. Rogers makes himself available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and works tirelessly to achieve the best possible result for each client. The best approach to defeating auto burglary charges is early criminal defense attorney intervention, contact Mr. Rogers immediately.

Elements to Commercial Burglary

In order for someone to be found guilty of commercial burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant entered a commercial structure
  2. Defendant intended to commit a felony or theft crime prior to entry

What is the Punishment for Commercial Burglary?

Commercial burglary is categorized as a “wobbler” offense, which means the prosecutor has discretion to file commercial burglary charges as a felony or a misdemeanor. Pursuant to proposition 47, if the theft or attempted theft was $950 or less and the crime was committed during normal business hours, then the crime is a misdemeanor. If convicted of commercial burglary as a misdemeanor, one faces a maximum of one year in the county jail. If convicted of commercial burglary as a felony, sentencing ranges from 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison. A felony convicted may be reduced to misdemeanor at a later point upon successful completion of probation pursuant to P.C. 17(b).


Bob walk into grocery store to buy some groceries for dinner. While shopping, Bob grabs a candy bar and places it in his pocket. Bob pays for all his groceries but intentionally omits paying for the candy bar in his pocket. Bob leaves the store and while walking to his car he’s picked up by store security. In this case, Bob will not be guilty of commercial burglary because Bob harbored the intentions to commit a theft after entering the store. Had Bob intended to commit a theft prior to entering the store, Bob would then be guilty of commercial burglary.

What are the Legal Defenses to Commercial Burglary?

If a defendant did not harbor the requisite intent to commit a crime at the moment or prior to entry, the defendant is not guilty of commercial burglary. Additionally, the prosecution must prove that there was physical entry, an element of the offense that is not often easy to prove. Furthermore, if the theft was carried out on accident, as it was not intentional, then one is not guilty of commercial burglary or one had a good-faith claim of right to the item taken.

Commercial Burglary Expungement

In California, a commercial burglary conviction is eligible to be expunged so long as certain requirements have been fulfilled. Expunging your record is governed under California P.C. 1203.4 where your finding of guilt is set aside the conviction is dismissed. Contact Los Angeles Burglary Attorney John Rogers for more information regarding your eligibility and process to expunge your criminal record.

Free Los Angeles Burglary Attorney Consultation

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged, or is under investigation for commercial burglary, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense & Burglary Lawyer John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call 877-888-9820 now for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.