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Citation charge versus real charge at arraignment

San Diego, CA |

I have a citation for California Penal Code 484(a) in San Diego. Upon contacting few attorneys, some mentioned that the City attorneys may charge me with burglary. Is this true?

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Attorney answers 5


That an very well happen if they feel they can prove you formed the intent prior to entering the store


Yes. A charge on a citation is just like a charge on a booking sheet. It charges a violation of the Penal Code and the information gathered is fowarded to the prosecution to determine whether or not to file a criminal complaint. Your citation probably includes a promise to appear. This is an option to arresting someone and taking them into custody that a lot of counties rely on.

The City Attorney's Office in San Diego takes all charges very seriously and very rarely seems to exercise any true discretion. I suggest that you contact a criminal defense attorney who can start building your defense. The prosecution is already building theirs. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can ask for the public defender to be appointed at your first appearance (again, the date is probably on your citation. Do not miss this court date! Very few things are harder to overcome than a failure to appear.)

There are valid defenses to charges of burglary, including attacking the intent element as has been pointed out. However, there are no blanket defenses that work in all cases and when you meet with an attorney in a private and confidential setting, the attorney can determine which applies best in your particular case. Please remember that the internet is a public forum, accessible to defense attorneys and prosecutors alike. This includes your facebook and myspace regardless of what you think your privacy settings are. Do not discuss the details of your case except with an attorney in a private and confidential setting where the rules of privilege and confidentiality apply.


The DA has a lot of discretion to charge you with anything that they can. The DA could lose the ability to charge you with crimes if they fail to do so. You should contact an attorney to make sure that you get fair treatment.


Yes, if the prosecutor believes they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you entered the building with the intent to steal, then they can and sometimes will also charge you with PC 459 (burglary).

Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555


Yes, the City Attorney can charge you with any charges they believe the evidence supports, and sometimes in petty theft cases they add burglary charges. They would have to prove you had the intent to commit the theft prior to entering the building. They can look at evidence such as whether you had burglary tools, bags that defeat sensors, etc. or have prior thefts on your record in deciding whether they believe they can prove the burglary charge. However, many times petty theft cases get filed without the burglary charges. These cases can be reduced through negotiations, and sometimes even dismissed or reduced to an infraction through negoations.

David M. Boertje, Esq.
(619) 229-1870

*Please note that this is not legal advice and in no way formed an attorney-client relationship*

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