Burglary of a Safe or Vault

A burglary occurs when you enter a particular space without authorization, intending to commit an offense while inside. If you forcefully open a safe or vault using an explosive or torch to commit an offense, the prosecutor will file burglary charges under PC 464. This is a grave felony that could result in a lengthy prison term and a hefty court fine. The consequences of a conviction under this law go beyond the prison sentence. You will face various challenges in your social and professional lives even after serving your prison time. This is due to the damaging criminal record the conviction leaves you with.

If you face charges for burglarizing a safe or vault in Long Beach, you must fight your charges to obtain a favorable outcome for your case. That way, you will avoid the severe consequences of a conviction. Our skilled criminal attorneys at Long Beach Criminal Attorney can help you develop a fighting strategy that could compel the judge to drop or reduce your charges.

The Legal Definition of Burglarizing a Safe or Vault

Burglary of a vault or safe is a grave felony due to the likely penalties you will receive upon conviction. The judge can sentence you to seven years plus a hefty court fine. However, the prosecutor must first demonstrate all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt for the court to find you guilty of your charges. These elements, according to PC 464, are as follows:

  • You entered a particular building.
  • While in that building, you attempted to open or opened a safe, vault, or secured place
  • You forcefully opened the place using an explosive or torch
  • You had a particular intent at the time, which was to burglarize the safe or vault or to commit another crime

Let us look at these elements in more detail to understand the law even better:

Entering a Building

PC 464 is a burglary-related offense. This means that the prosecutor must demonstrate the aspect of burglary while prosecuting your case. Burglary entails illegally entering a particular building or any other area without authorization. You must have entered that space intending to commit an offense. Entering your house, family home, or workplace does not count as you have authorization to enter those places. However, entering your employer’s home, office, or neighbor’s house intending to commit an offense while inside constitutes burglary.


: The building or space does not necessarily have to be inhabited. If the prosecutor can demonstrate your intent to violate the law, you can face burglary charges even for entering an uninhabited space.

Additionally, the time of day or night you enter the structure is not necessarily important. You can commit burglary during the day, in the morning, or at night.

Opening or Attempting to Open a Vault or Safe

This particular statute penalizes anyone who unlawfully enters a building to open or attempt to open a safe, vault, or any secured space. The prosecutor must demonstrate this aspect for the jury to deliver a guilty verdict. You are guilty even if you fail to open the secured space.


: If you open or try to open a safe without first entering a building with a plan to do so, the judge will dismiss your charges. A theft crime becomes a burglary if you enter a building intending to commit an offense. If you create that intent after entering a building, you will face charges under a different statute, not PC 464.

Using An Explosive or Torch

PC 464 penalizes opening or attempting to open a safe or vault using an explosive or torch. That entails forcefully opening a secured space. You are not guilty if you try a password combination or other means to open a safe. However, you will face criminal charges under a different law for opening a secured space without authorization or stealing valuables from a secured space.

Possible Penalties for a Conviction Under PC 464

Burglarizing a safe, vault, or other secured space is a felony offense. If the judge delivers a guilty verdict after a trial, you will likely receive the following penalties:

  • Seven years in prison or
  • Felony probation
  • A maximum of $10,000 in court fine

The judge can sentence you to probation instead of prison time. When that happens, they could order you to serve part of your sentence in jail and the remaining part out of jail. However, you must abide by strict probation conditions to ensure you serve your sentence well and do not commit another crime while on probation.

Felony probation can last up to five years. The judge will place you under the supervision of the probation department. The department will appoint a probation officer to oversee your performance and ensure you abide by the judge's conditions during sentencing. Here are examples of these conditions:

  • You must not commit another crime while on probation
  • You must remain within the court’s jurisdiction throughout the probation period, which means minimal or zero travel out of state.
  • You must participate in community service for predetermined hours
  • You must undergo drug or alcohol treatment if you have a drug-related problem that caused you to commit the crime
  • You must meet regularly with your probation officer to report your progress.

You will face severe consequences for violating any of these probation conditions. The probation officer will report the violation to the court, which will take action against you. Once the judge is notified about your probation violation, they will set up a hearing to determine the circumstances and consequences of the violation. From the hearing, the judge can make any of these decisions:

  • To continue the probation under the same conditions but with a stern warning against further violation.
  • To continue probation but with a new set of probation conditions
  • To discontinue probation and send you to prison for the required period under the law

Defending Yourself Against Charges Under PC 464

The consequences of a conviction are usually many, including incarceration, court fines, payment of retribution, and a damaging criminal record that follows you years after the sentence. That is why you must find ways to defend yourself against your charges to compel the judge to drop or reduce your charges. If the judge dismisses your charges, you will not have to worry about the conviction and its consequences. If the judge reduces your charges, the penalties will be more lenient than you could receive for a PC 464 conviction.

Fortunately, a skilled criminal attorney can help you build a solid defense. They can use the best defense strategies, including the following:

You Did Not Enter the Building Intending To Commit An Offense

The elements of this offense require you to enter a building without authorization and intend to commit an offense while inside the building. You are not guilty if you did not enter the structure with that intent. If you formed the intent after entering the structure, you are not guilty under PC 464. However, you will face prosecution under a different statute. Remember that the prosecutor must demonstrate all elements of this crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you convince the jury that you did not have the intent to forcefully open a vault or safe before entering the building, the judge will dismiss your charges.

The Building Did Not Have a Safe or Vault

It could be challenging for the district attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you planned to open a safe or vault if the building does not have one. If the building you allegedly enter without authorization has no secured space, including a vault or space, a skilled attorney can use that to fight your intent. Remember that if you did not intend to burglarize a safe, vault, or secured space, you are not guilty under PC 464. The judge will dismiss your charges.

You Did Not Have an Explosive or Torch

The elements of this offense are also evident, such as using an explosive or torch to burglarize a secured space, including a vault or safe. You are not guilty if you did not use any of these tools to open or attempt to open a safe without authorization. For example, if you opened or tried to open a vault using a password combination, you are not guilty under PC 464. But you will face charges under a different law for entering a building and opening a safe without authorization.

You are Falsely Accused

False accusations are familiar with theft-related crimes. Some people accuse others of a theft offense that others did not commit for various reasons, including jealousy, a desire for revenge, or to gain an advantage over the falsely accused. If you did not commit this crime and are sure someone else is falsely accusing you, discuss it with your attorney. A skilled attorney will determine your accuser’s actual motive and use it to compel the judge to dismiss your charges.

The Police Misconducted Themselves During Your Arrest or Crime Investigation

The police have clear guidelines they must follow when arresting suspected offenders and investigating crimes. These guidelines ensure they perform their duties legally without violating civilians' rights. If the arresting officer misconducted themselves or violated your rights in any way, you must discuss it with your attorney. A skilled attorney can use that to compel the judge to dismiss your charges.

For example, suppose the officer used force, violence, or fraud to obtain a confession or did not read your Miranda rights. In that case, you have sufficient grounds to compel the judge to dismiss all evidence the officer gathered against you. That will leave the prosecutor with little or no evidence to obtain a guilty verdict.

PC 464 and Related Crimes

The law has some offenses closely related to the burglary of a vault or safe. These offenses include the following:

PC 459, Burglary

You commit burglary when you enter a residential or commercial building intending to commit a theft crime or any other felony while in the building. Burglary is a general term where PC 464 falls. The kind of burglary offense you face a charge for depends on the circumstances of your case. For example, if you enter another person’s vehicle intending to violate the law, you will face auto burglary charges. Intending to commit an offense after entering a building, structure, or theft is consistent with all burglary-related crimes.

PC 466, Possessing Burglary Tools

You violate this law when caught possessing burglary tools and intending to commit burglary. This offense, too, wants to commit burglary with the tools in your possession. These tools could include crowbars, picklocks, slide hammers, and screwdrivers. The law considers PC 464 as graver than PC 466. Thus, possessing the tools to commit burglary is a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail.

PC 469, Duplicating Keys to State Buildings

This law makes it an offense to duplicate keys to state offices without authorization. It is also a misdemeanor offense, punishable by six months of jail time. State buildings include public schools, city or county buildings, and any structure or area owned by the state.

Find a Competent Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

Do you or someone you know face charges for burglarizing or attempting to burglarize a vault or safe in Long Beach?

These are serious felony charges that could result in seven years in prison and a hefty court fine. A conviction will also leave you with a severe criminal record that will affect your life in many ways, including your social and professional lives.

But we can help you fight for the best possible outcome for your case at Long Beach Criminal Attorney. We have a team of highly skilled and experienced criminal attorneys who will study your case details to determine the best fighting strategies to use. We will advise you on your options and protect your rights throughout all legal processes. Call us at 562-308-7807 for more information about your charges and our services.