Burglary is considered a felony offense in Florida. That means any person convicted of unlawfully entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein can end up paying expensive fines and being sentenced to lengthy prison sentences. Depending on the surrounding circumstances—such as if the defendant possessed a weapon—the penalties can be even more severe.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the laws, penalties, and options for defense if you are facing criminal charges for burglary. A skilled defense attorney can help you fight to get the charges lessened or dismissed.
South Florida Defense Attorney
Are you facing criminal prosecution in South Florida? Do not wait to contact a defense attorney. It is in your best interest to get started on your case as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will review all case details and begin to build a defense strategy. Ian Goldstein Law represents those in need of criminal defense in Palm Beach County and throughout the State of Florida.. Call our office at (561) 600-0950 to receive a free case consultation.
Florida Statute Section 810.02 defines burglary as entering or remaining in a structure, dwelling, or conveyance with the intent to commit a criminal offense. There are different types of burglary offenses depending on the type of place that was unlawfully entered. The three types of burglary offenses include:
- Burglary of a dwelling – Includes any place for temporary or permanent inhabitation, such as a house, apartment, or an attached porch with a roof over it.
- Burglary of a conveyance – Includes a car, aircraft, railroad vehicle, ship, vessel, or sleeping car.
- Burglary of a structure – Includes any building with a roof over it that is not used for inhabitants, like an office building or shopping center.
There are exemptions to the burglary law, which is important to know if any apply to your case. Exemptions to burglary include any of the following:
- The premises were open to the public during the time of the alleged burglary;
- The defendant had a license to enter or remain on the premises where the alleged burglary took place; or
- The owner or authorized person of the premises invited or gave permission to the defendant to enter or remain on the premises.
Important: If the owner or authorized person retracts their invitation or permission granted to the defendant and they instead remain on the premises, they can face a charge of burglary.
Elements of Burglary
During a burglary criminal case, the State holds the responsibility of proving all elements in a burglary offense beyond a reasonable doubt. To convict a defendant of a burglary charge, the following elements must be proven by the prosecution:
- The defendant unlawfully entered a structure, dwelling, or conveyance;
- When the defendant allegedly entered the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, they did so with the intent to commit a criminal offense; and
- The dwelling, structure, or conveyance was in the lawful possession of or belonged to someone else.
Penalties for Burglary Conviction
The penalties for a burglary charge will vary depending on the specific details of the case. Burglary charges range from a third to a first-degree felony in Florida.
- Third-degree felony – A third-degree felony burglary conviction carries up to $5,000 in fines and up to 5 years in prison if:
- The defendant did not commit assault or battery;
- The defendant was not armed;
- The defendant entered or remained in an unoccupied structure; or
- The defendant entered or remained in an unoccupied conveyance.
- Second-degree felony – A second-degree felony burglary conviction carries up to $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison if:
- The defendant enters or remains in a dwelling, occupied structure, or occupied conveyance;
- The defendant enters or remains in an authorized emergency vehicle; or
- The defendant enters a structure or conveyance with the intent to commit theft of any controlled substance.
- First-degree felony – A first-degree felony burglary conviction carries up to $10,000 in fines and up to Life in prison without the possibility of parole if:
- The defendant commits assault or battery on a person during a burglary offense;
- The defendant is armed or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon or explosive while unlawfully inside a dwelling, structure, or conveyance; or
- Defendant enters any dwelling or structure and in doing so:
- Uses a motor vehicle to assist in the commission of the burglary offense; or
- Causes over $1,000 in damage to the dwelling, structure, or conveyance.
Any burglary committed during a riot, or an aggravated riot and any burglary committed within a county subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor is a second-degree felony and will be also receive a one level enhancement on the sentencing guidelines.
Difference Between Burglary and Robbery
Two criminal offenses that are commonly confused are burglary and robbery. However, robbery implies that the defendant allegedly took an item or property belonging to someone else by use of force or violence. Burglary implies that the defendant unlawfully entered a property with the intent to commit a crime but does not have to include any force or violence.
Possession of Burglary Tools
One offense related to burglary is the possession of burglary tools. Under Florida Statute Section 810.06, a defendant can face a third-degree felony for possessing any tool, machine, or implement with the intent to use or allow to be used in the furtherance of a trespassing or burglary offense.
Defenses to Burglary
Facing criminal charges is understandably stressful for anyone. Even if you have already been apprehended and charged with a crime, it is important to remember that there is an entire legal process to go through. An arrest does not mean you are immediately found guilty—by working with an experienced South Florida attorney, you can begin strategizing possible defenses to your case.
Common defenses to burglary charges include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The defendant was given permission to enter or remain on the property;
- Lack of evidence to prove the defendant intended to commit a crime;
- The property was open to the public at the time of the alleged burglary offense;
- The property where the alleged burglary took place did not meet the standards to be considered a dwelling, structure, or conveyance; or
- The victim had mistaken the defendant’s identity.
Each burglary case will differ in its details, which is why it is imperative that you consult with a defense lawyer who is knowledgeable regarding all applicable defenses to your case.
Contact an Experienced South Florida Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges for burglary has the potential to turn your life upside down. You may be feeling overwhelmed by the idea of navigating the legal landscape, which is where an experienced attorney comes in. It is important to work with a defense attorney who understands the nuances of the law, and who is prepared to fight aggressively for you.
South Florida Criminal defense attorney Ian Goldstein will provide a risk-free consultation for those in need of criminal defense. Contact our office today and we can begin strategizing defenses to your case. We represent clients in Palm Beach County and throughout South Florida, Let our attorneys represent you and get your life back on track. Call us today at (561) 600-0950 for a free consultation.