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Burglary of a Safe

Penal Code 464 PC - Burglary of a Safe or Vault

There are different types of burglaries in the state of California. For example, Penal Code 464 PC burglary of a safe or fault is a specific type of burglary typically involving breaking into a building and attempting to blow open a safe or vault with explosives or using a torch.

Penal Code 464 is legally defined as: “Any person who, with intent to commit a crime, enters any building, inhabited or not, and opens or attempts to open any vault, safe, or another secure place by use of acetylene torch or electric arc, burning bar, thermal lance, oxygen lance, or another device capable of burning through steel, concrete, or by use of nitroglycerine, dynamite, gunpowder, or any other explosive, is guilty of a felony offense.”

Penal Code 464 PC - Burglary of a Safe or Vault
Penal Code 464 PC is a form of burglary involving the use of a torch or explosive to enter a safe.

Put simply, this law makes it a felony offense to enter a building with the intent to commit grand theft, and once inside, you open or try to open a safe or vault with explosives or a torch. You can violate this statute using explosives, safecracking, or safe blowing by a torch.

Penal Code 464 PC is a specific type of Penal Code 459 burglary. You don't have to successfully secure the safe or vault to be charged under this statute; instead, the attempt alone is sufficient for a conviction.

Two separate offenses are breaking into a building, known as a burglary, and opening or attempting to open a safe or vault. If you entered a building and tried to open a safe or secure place, then prosecutors could file criminal charges under PC 464, but they could also file PC 459 burglary charges.

PC 464 is a burglary using explosives or acetylene torches to open a safe or vault. You could face charges of either a first-degree (residential) or second-degree (business) burglary of a safe or vault. This is a felony crime that carries up to seven years in prison. Our California criminal defense attorneys will look at this law below.

Burglary of a Safe Law - Explained

A safe or vault burglary is described as entering a building with the intent to commit a crime once inside, then using a torch or explosives to open it.  

The building could be occupied or vacant, business or residence day or night.  The use of explosives classifies this crime as a burglary of a safe or vault. To convict you, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the crime that you:

  • entered a building;
  • with the specific intent to commit a crime inside; and
  • once inside, you used a torch or explosives in an attempt to open a safe, vault, or other secure location.

Penal Code 464 is always charged as a felony whether the property entered was residential or commercial. If you are convicted, you face a potential sentence of up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

What Are a Few Examples?

Roger enters a jewelry store late at night with a duplicated key. Once inside, he uses a torch to try to open the vault and steal the contents. According to PC 464, he is guilty of burglary of a safe or vault because he used a torch in the vault's opening.

Tony breaks into a retail store at night and uses safecracking techniques to open the safe by listening to the tumblers. While he could face other charges, he is not guilty under PC 464 because no explosives or torch was used to try to open the safe.

What Are the Related Offenses?

  • Burglary under Penal Code 459 PC is entering a building with the intent to commit a theft or any other felony crime once inside and is a wobbler that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. Penal Code 460 PC defines the felony crime of first-degree residential burglary;
  • First-degree residential burglary under Penal Code 460 PC is entering an inhabited dwelling to steal or commit a crime and is always a felony:
  • Possession of burglary tools under Penal Code 466 PC is the possession of tools that could be used to commit a burglary, such as a crowbar, with the specific intent to use them in a burglary;
  • Grand theft under Penal Code 487 PC is stealing property that exceeds that value of $950 and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony;
  • Possession of destructive devices under Penal Code 18710 PC is possessing or transporting explosives, such as bombs or grenades, and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony;
  • Robbery under Penal Code 211 is forcefully taking somebody's property in their direct presence and is always a felony that carries up to five years in state prison.
  • Trespassing under Penal Code 602 PC is going onto someone's property without permission, but a defense attorney typically uses this law to negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges.

What Are the Common Legal Defenses?

A defense lawyer could use several strategies if you were charged with burglary of a safe or vault.

Legal Defenses for Burglary in California
Contact our firm for an initial case review.

Perhaps we can argue there was a lack of intent.  Maybe you didn't enter the building with the intent to commit a crime inside.

Perhaps we could argue that there was no use of explosives or a torch. Maybe you didn't open the safe or attempt to use explosives, but you could still face PC 459 burglary charges.

Perhaps we can argue the location you entered didn't qualify as a safe or vault, or you did not attempt to break into it. This defense, however, is typically used to negotiate downgraded charges.

Perhaps we can argue that you are the victim of false allegations. Maybe you were misidentified or falsely accused of the crime by somebody with other motives.

If you need legal representation, you can contact our law firm by phone or use the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP has two office locations in Los Angeles County, California.

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