Burglary is often confused as a type of theft. While theft can be the reason for burglary, theft is not always burglary and burglary is not always theft. Florida law defines burglary in Florida Statutes § 810.02 as “entering or remaining in a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein,” unless it is open to the public, or there is a legally sufficient invitation. The common misconception that burglary is a type of theft stems from this definition. The most common type of burglary is usually for the purpose of stealing some kind of property. A burglary can be committed with any offense though, from criminal mischief to murder. If you or a loved one is charged with Burglary, it is critical to consult with an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What are the Penalties for Burglary in Florida?
Burglary starts out as a third degree felony if the accused:
- Did not use violence (assault or battery),
- Does not arm themselves with a weapon or explosive, and;
- The entered building is an unoccupied structure or conveyance.
A third degree felony carries up to 5 years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, or both.
Burglary can also be charged as a second degree felony if there is no violence or weapon, and one of the following is alleged:
- The building is a dwelling;
- The building is an occupied structure or conveyance;
- The building is an unoccupied structure or conveyance, and the intended crime is Theft of a controlled substance; or
- The occupied vehicle is an emergency vehicle.
A second degree felony carries up to 15 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.
The most serious burglaries in Florida are charged as first degree felonies. In order for the state to prove first degree felony charges, they must prove that:
- Assault or battery were committed;
- The accused was armed or became armed; or,
- The building was a dwelling or structure, and a vehicle was used to cause damage or more than $1,000 in damage were caused.
A first degree felony carries up to 30 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.
Any of these charges also carry the chance of probation, classes, community service, restitution, or any other rational obligation the judge may come up with.
Defenses to a Burglary Charge
- General Denial – This is utilized when the State cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each element exists, there are a few different forms of general denial when discussing burglary defenses:
- Permission existed – The most common defense is that the accused actually had permission to be in the dwelling, conveyance or structure. A person can be guilty of entering a separate portion of the premises, even if the rest is open to the public, but it can be argued that this knowledge was not known at the time.
- False Allegations – It is possible the police arrested the wrong person, or the accused was simply setup. Even small amounts of proof that the wrong person is being accused can stop a case dead in its tracks.
- Constitutional Challenges – Often burglary investigations involve searching of property, or evidence found following an arrest. The Fourth Amendment prevents warrantless searches and seizures unless specific circumstances exist. Even confessions can be suppressed if the police did not follow the law in obtaining the statements.
Burglary Defense Attorney in Jacksonville, FL
Lee Lockett and legal team at Lockett Law are based out of Duval County, but travel all over North Florida to defend the rights of others. The team is prepared to defend you if you have been accused of Burglary somewhere in the state of Florida. Mr. Lockett understands how prosecutors work and how they think, he began his career prosecuting cases for the state, and has brought that knowledge to his practice defending the accused. He learned how these cases work and can use that knowledge to ensure that the government does not take away your rights or your freedom without a fight. Call a Jacksonville burglary lawyer today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation.