29 Oct Burglary Charges In Florida: What You Need to Know
Can you go to prison for breaking into a car to take a laptop or iPad in plain view? Yes. This crime is officially called “burglary of a conveyance” and is a third-degree felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and under Florida Statute 810.011(3). Breaking into a car is just one type of burglary in Florida. Burglary crimes that can be committed in a few short minutes can mean years or even life in prison. A conviction of a felony can create challenges in obtaining housing or employment, and you will not be allowed to own a firearm.
Burglary is a felony offense in Florida that carries severe penalties. Florida statute defines burglary as when a person enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. Florida’s definitions of structure, dwelling, and conveyance, are extremely broad and can be any temporary or permanent structure, whether mobile or immobile, including:
- Any place that appears to be inhabited by people
- Any place that is inhabitable by people,
- Any place that was originally designed to be inhabited by people.
A person can be convicted of burglary even if they are initially invited onto the property, such as being invited to a party where they hide until after the party and then secretly steal jewelry from the host’s bedroom.
The jury instructions in Florida for burglary crimes also state that “the entry necessary need not be the whole body of the defendant.” In other words, if you stick your hand through a window, you could be charged with burglary, even if you did not physically enter with your whole body. It is sufficient if the defendant, with the intent to commit a crime, extends any part of his or her body into the structure or a vehicle (conveyance).
Penalties for Burglary in Florida
Penalties for burglary will depend on the circumstances of the event, the type of building or conveyance (car, boat, trailer, or aircraft) that you enter, if you cause damage to it, whether it is occupied, and whether you are or become armed. A first-degree felony is considered an armed and violent felony.
First Degree Felony
Burglary is a first-degree felony, with a penalty of up to life in prison and a fine in an amount up to $10,000, if the crime involves:
- Assault or battery on any person, or
- You were or became armed with a dangerous weapon or explosives within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance.
You could also be charged with first-degree felony burglary if the circumstances involve entering a dwelling or building, and you :
- Used an automobile to commit the crime, other than as a getaway car (for example, using an automobile to ram a security gate), or
- Caused damage to the dwelling or structure in excess of $1,000.
Second Degree Felony
Burglary is a second-degree felony, with a penalty up to 15 years in prison or up to 15 years probation, and a fine in an amount up to $10,000, if the defendant does not commit an assault, does not carry a dangerous weapon, and you enter or remain in a:
- Dwelling, when there is another person in the dwelling at the time you enter or remain, or
- Dwelling, when there is not another person in the dwelling at the time you enter or remain, or
- Structure, and there is another person in the structure at the time you enter or remain, or
- Conveyance, and there is another person in the conveyance at the time you enter or remain.
Third Degree Felony
Burglary is a third-degree felony, with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison or up to 5 years probation, and a fine in an amount up to $5,000, where you enter or remain in a:
- Structure, and there is no one in the structure at the time you enter or remain, or
- Conveyance, and there is no one in the conveyance at the time you enter or remain.
Florida’s Anti-Looting Law (Enhancer Penalty)
Florida has a specific “enhancer penalty” that primarily addresses hurricane scenarios during a state of emergency. This penalty can apply if someone commits theft or burglary-related crime during a state of emergency. With the enhancer penalty, a third-degree felony becomes a second-degree felony, and a second-degree felony becomes a first-degree felony. The penalties are significant.
Defenses Available in a Burglary Charge in Florida
After a close review of your charges, we can help you understand the defenses available, based on the elements of the crime. These defenses could include:
- Mistaken identity (it wasn’t you)
- You never entered the property or vehicle
- You had no intent to commit a crime
- The property or vehicle was open to the public at the time it occurred.
We will closely analyze your situation and evaluate all possible means to get charges dropped altogether or reduced to a lesser crime, such as misdemeanor shoplifting. Our goal in all criminal defense cases is to achieve the best possible result and lessen the impact of the event on your life.
Free Consultation with a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with burglary in Florida, it is critical to take the charges seriously and contact a Polk County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We offer a free consultation to review the charges you are facing, explain potential penalties and defenses available, evaluate your options to fight the charges, and answer your questions. Contact Sara Jones Law, P.A. at (863) 455-4811.