Florida Burglary Laws
If you have been charged with burglary in the state of Florida, do not delay in hiring skilled counsel to represent you. The attorneys at Musca Law have more than 150 years of collective experience in criminal defense, and we understand the challenges involved in burglary cases. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers and begin defending your liberties.
Florida’s Definition of Burglary
Florida Statute § 810.02 defines burglary as “entering a dwelling, structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter.” Under Florida law, burglary also includes remaining on the premises surreptitiously or after permission has been withdrawn with the intent to commit a crime or to commit a forcible felony. This might involve staying inside a store after closing hours with the intent to steal merchandise.
Within Florida’s statutes on burglary, the legislature has defined what constitutes a dwelling, a structure, and a conveyance.
- Dwelling – A dwelling is any kind of building with a roof that is intended as a place where people sleep. This includes attached porches and mobile homes, as well as temporary dwellings.
- Structure – A structure is any kind of building with a roof. This also includes temporary structures.
- Conveyance – A conveyance is a trailer, motor vehicle, rail car, sleeping car, ship, or vessel. Someone can “enter” a conveyance by taking any piece of it apart.
It is not necessary that a person fully enters the property to commit the crime of burglary. A person can be charged with burglary in Florida if any part of his or her person enters the property, and the person has the intent to commit a crime while partially entering the property. Examples of this principle might include reaching an arm into a car or stepping partway into a home.
Requirement of Intent
You will notice in Florida’s definition of burglary, that there is a requirement of intent. Burglary is not an appropriate charge in the state if a person enters a property without intent to commit a crime. However, a jury is allowed to infer criminal intent based on the way in which the person entered or remained in the property. If the person entered the property or stayed at the property in a manner designed to avoid detection, a jury could infer that he or she did so with the intent of committing a crime inside the property.
It is also important to note that, while many burglary charges in Florida involve theft, theft does not have to be the underlying crime. A person can be charged with burglary if he or she enters or remains in a property with the intent of committing any crime.
Penalties for Burglary in Florida
Florida has harsh penalties for the crime of burglary. The crime is charged as a felony in the state, and the circumstances of the case dictate the level of felony charged.
- Third-Degree Felony – Burglary will be charged as a third-degree felony in Florida if the defendant is accused of entering or remaining in an unoccupied structure or conveyance. This means no other person was inside the property at the time. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Second-Degree Felony – Burglary will be charged as a second-degree felony in Florida if the defendant is accused of entering or remaining in a dwelling (occupied or unoccupied), an occupied structure, an occupied conveyance, or an authorized emergency vehicle (occupied or unoccupied). It is also a second-degree felony to enter or remain in a structure with the intent of stealing a controlled substance. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony – Burglary will be charged as a first-degree felony in Florida if the defendant is accused of committing certain additional crimes in the course of the burglary. These include assault or battery upon any person, possession of explosives or a weapon, use of a motor vehicle in a way that damages the dwelling or structure, or causing damage to the dwelling, structure, or property inside in excess of $1,000. A first-degree felony can be punished by life in prison.
The consequences of a burglary conviction are serious, and every accused person deserves representation. Contact Musca Law to start building the best defense in your case.
Defending Against Burglary Charges in Florida
The defenses available in a burglary case will depend on the facts and circumstances of the incident. Defenses in a Florida burglary case can include:
- Mistaken identity or doubt as to identity – A witness might mistakenly identify the defendant as a suspect, or surveillance from the scene might be unclear about whether the person who committed the crime is the defendant.
- Lack of criminal intent – The defendant might have been present on the property but had no intent to commit a crime.
- Permission or invitation as to the property – The defendant might have had the property owner’s permission to enter or remain or might have been invited to enter or remain. Alternatively, there might be some misunderstanding about whether the defendant had permission from the owner.
- Public place – If the relevant property was open to the public at the time of the alleged crime, the defendant did not unlawfully enter or remain.
- Alibi or proof of whereabouts – The defendant might have an alibi witness or other proof that he or she was not at the relevant property at the time the crime occurred.
Your attorney will fully investigate the accusations against you and will work to uncover all possible defenses.
Contact Musca Law to Speak to a Florida Burglary Defense Attorney
Contact Musca Law today to speak to an experienced Florida defense attorney. We provide free initial case consultations, and our office is available to schedule yours now when you call (888) 484-5057.