Does Opening a Garage Door with a Remote Control With the Intent to Commit Burglary Constitute a Burglary Under California Penal Code Section 459?

By: Wallin & Klarich

No! In the recent case of People v. Magness, the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District overruled the trial court’s determination that the defendant’s use of a remote control device to open the victim’s garage door with the intent to commit a burglary constituted a burglary under California Penal Code Section 459. The court of appeal held that when a person uses a remote control device to open a garage door from a distance away from the house, with the intent to commit a burglary, the person does not “enter” the house for purposes of the crime of burglary under California law. Under California law, a person commits burglary when he or she enters any house or other building with the intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony. A burglary occurs when one’s possessory right in a building has been invaded. Thus, an act of physical entry for the purpose of committing a burglary, no matter how partial or slight it may be, constitutes a burglary under the meaning and intent of California Penal Code Section 459. Moreover, courts have also held that a burglary may be committed when an invader uses an instrument-such as a pair of pliers or a crowbar-to effectuate entry into either a house or other building. However, in the Magness case, the court found that in the absence of any sort of physical intrusion into the victim’s garage, the use of a remote control to effectuate entry, standing alone, will not uphold a burglary conviction.

In the Magness case, the defendant had taken a remote control device from the victim’s car which was parked outside on the victim’s driveway to open up the victim’s garage door. However, before the defendant stepped foot inside of the victim’s garage, the victim came out of the house and confronted the defendant, thereby foiling the defendant’s burglary attempt. The majority reasoned that using a remote control device to open the victim’s garage door was not analogous to either kicking in the door or using a crowbar to effectuate entry (both of which would constitute an “entry”) under California law.

When you retain Wallin & Klarich to defend you from burglary charges, we can argue for a dismissal of the charges based upon many legal theories including the following:

1) That you lacked the intent to commit a burglary.
2) That you did not physically enter the premises (i.e. did not “cross the plane” of the premises with any body part)
3) That you did not use an instrumentality (such as a crowbar) to enter the premises 4) That there is no evidence generally to support the burglary allegations against you.

To ensure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing against the state when you’re being charged with burglary, you need the legal expertise of an aggressive and skilled criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have zealously represented our clients facing burglary charges for over 30 years and can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your matter. Call us today at 1-888-749-0034 or visit us online at We will be there for you when you call.

Posted In: Burglary