Under Florida Law, a burglary is defined as entering a structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime therein. There are different levels of severity for burglary charges and the circumstances of the burglary dictate what degree felony it is. For example, burglary of a home or “dwelling” is much more serious than burglary of a car or vehicle.
Burglary can also occur if a person initially had permission to be on the premises, but later that permission was revoked, or if the person was hiding out without the owner’s knowledge. It is also important to know that if a person lied in order to obtain permission, the permission would not be a defense.
If you or a loved one is facing a burglary charge, call Board Certified Criminal Trial Expert Amanda Sampaio. It is important to have an attorney who has experience with these types of allegations and knows how to fight the charge or get the penalties reduced.
Defenses to Burglary
- No intent to commit a crime
- Rightful ownership of the property (note that you can still be guilty of trespass)
- Permission to enter or take the property
- Premises were open to the public at the time
- Innocent bystander
- It wasn’t me
- It didn’t happen
- There is no proof or a lack of proof
- Statute of Limitations has run
Burglary Offense Levels
|Charge||Location / Circumstances||Offense Level||Punishment|
|Burglary of a Structure||Of a Structure (not a dwelling), not occupied||F3||5 yr. max|
|Burglary of a Occupied Structure||The structure was occupied by a person||F3||5 yr. max|
|Burglary of a Dwelling||Dwelling or household||F3||15 yr. max. Note: this offense scores prison time|
|Burglary of Emergency Vehicle||Police car, ambulance, fire truck, etc.||F2||15 yr. max|
|Burglary with Assault or Battery therein||An assault or battery occurs inside during the burglary||F1||Punishable by Life|
|Armed Burgalry||Person is armed or becomes armed during the burglary||F1||Punishable by Life|
|Burglary with Damage over $1,000||During the burglary damage is caused totaling over $1,000||F1||30 yr max|
|Burglary using a Motor Vehicle||Motor vehicle used to enter, causing damage||F1||30 yr max|
Note: this is not an exhaustive list of all burglary related offenses. For a complete listing, consult Florida Statute § 810, Burglary and Trespass
Possession of Burglary Tools
Is also a crime in Florida. To prove this crime, the State must prove that a person possessed a tool, machine, or equipment with the intent to use it in a burglary or trespass. Intent is the key to this crime because anyone can innocently posses the same type of tool that can be considered a burglary tool. This charge usually accompanies other.
Prima facie evidence of intent to commit a crime therein
Evidence that someone entered the premises “stealthily and without consent of the owner or occupant” constitutes prima facie evidence of intent to commit a crime upon entering. See Fla. Stat. § 810.07
What is a "Dwelling?"
A dwelling is a building of any kind which has a roof and is designed to be occupied by people lodging there at night. It can be temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile. A dwelling usually means any household structure and its curtilage.
Curtilage is the area affixed or immediately surrounding the home such as a garage or porch. See Fla. Stat. § 810.011(2)
What is a "Structure?"
A structure is a building of any kind that has a roof over it.
What is a "Conveyance?"
A conveyance is any type of motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car. Entering a conveyance includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance.
What constitutes being "Armed?"
The person commits the battery while carrying or using a weapon or firearm. One can also become armed after the entry; for example, if a person picks up a knife while in the kitchen during a burglary of that home.
What constitutes "Entry?"
Entry does not have to be the complete body of the person. For example, if a person simply reaches into a window of a home or car and takes something out, that is considered to be entry. No “breaking and entering” is required to prove this crime.
Do You Need An Attorney?
Burglary charges carry heavy consequences and it is always a good idea to have an attorney to represent you. A skilled attorney can evaluate your case and advise you what the strengths and weaknesses are, what defenses you may have, and what possible consequences you are facing.
Amanda Sampaio is a Board Certified Criminal Trial lawyer and she has helped dozens of people fight their burglary charges. Call today and have Amanda evaluate your case.