Florida—like most states—defines the crime of burglary as occurring when a person enters (or remains inside) a structure, conveyance or dwelling, with the specific intent of committing a criminal offense inside. The crime of burglary is a felony offense in the state of Florida, carrying severe penalties which will, most often, include prison and probation. Your intent in the commission of the crime of burglary, is a very important element in that you not only entered a building, you entered with the specific intent to commit a theft or felony once you gained access.
Definitions of Structure, Conveyance and Dwelling
Under Florida Statutes, Section 810.011(1)-(3), a structure is a building of any type, whether it is permanent or temporary, so long as it has a roof overhead. A conveyance can include a vehicle, a trailer, an aircraft, a boat, a vessel, a railroad car, a sleeping car, or a ship. A dwelling is a building of any kind, permanent or temporary, mobile or immobile, with a roof overhead, designed to be occupied by people at night, whether within the enclosed space of the dwelling, or the outbuildings surrounding it.
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Jury Can Infer Criminal Intent
It is important to note that full entry on your part is not required into the building, conveyance or structure; the crime is considered “complete” so long as you had intent to commit a crime, and any part of your body extended into the building, conveyance or structure. There is also an inference of criminal intent if you enter or attempt to enter a building, conveyance or structure in a secretive manner (i.e., the jury may infer your actions had criminal intent behind them).
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Penalties for the Crime of Burglary
The penalties for the crime of burglary in the state of Florida can be harsh, therefore it is imperative that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side from start to finish. From the moment you are charged with the crime of burglary, or even think you might be charged with the crime of burglary, it would be to your advantage to call an attorney from The Law Place who can help build a solid defense on your behalf. Because burglary can be a difficult crime to prove in some cases, the prosecutor might be more likely to consider lesser charges, or offer an appealing plea bargain. The Florida penalties for the crime of burglary include:
- If your crime of burglary is accompanied by:
- an assault or battery on a person;
- you are armed (with explosives or a firearm) when you enter the conveyance, structure or dwelling;
- you used an automobile as an instrument to help you commit the offense, damaging the conveyance, structure, or dwelling, or
- you caused damage to the conveyance, structure or dwelling in excess of $1,000,
You could be charged with a first-degree felony, and, if convicted, could face life in prison.
- If, during the course of your burglary, you:
- Entered or remained in a dwelling, structure or conveyance and there was another person in the dwelling at the same time, or
- Entered or remained in a dwelling, structure or conveyance and there were no other people in the dwelling at the same time;
But you did not use a weapon or commit an assault, you could be charged with a second-degree felony, and, if convicted, could face up to fifteen years in prison, or fifteen years probation and a fine as high as $10,000.
- If, in the commission of the crime of burglary, there were no other people in the structure, conveyance or dwelling at the time of your offense, you could be charged with a third-degree felony, and, if convicted, you could face up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a fine as large as $5,000.
Defenses to the Crime of Burglary
The prosecutor must prove that you had the intent to commit a theft or felony upon your entry or the crime did not actually take place. Another facet of intent revolves around mistake of fact, which means if you entered another’s home with the intention of taking back something you believed belonged to you or if you entered another’s home believing you had the owner’s express permission to take the item, then you would not be guilty of burglary.
Finally, if you had the owner’s consent then your attorney might be able to prove you had no intent to commit the crime of burglary. If you are charged with burglary of a structure but you never entered the structure or otherwise committed the crime, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor that your charges were the result of mistaken identity in that you simply looked like someone else or had the same name as someone who was reported to the police.
If you have been charged with the crime of burglary, don’t wait, hoping the charges will go away. A conviction for the crime of burglary can follow you for the remainder of your life, making it difficult to obtain employment, a professional license or even a student loan. In order to minimize the damage to your future, to the extent possible, contact The Law Place at 941-444-4444.