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Burglary is codified at Florida Statute 810.02, and regardless of the severity of the allegation or facts surround such a claim, burglary is a felony in Florida. Not every allegation of burglary is like the other, meant that the severity of this charge depends on what was alleged to have been burgled, whether there were people within the structure or conveyance burgled, and if force was used by the individual accused. Generally speaking, a burglary is when someone enters a home (referred to as a dwelling in the statute), structure (think of this as a building, freestanding garage, etc.), or conveyance (often this involves a car), with an intent at the time of entry, to commit an offense once inside.

The most serious nature of this crime is a first-degree felony which is punishable by life if, while during the burglary, the individual commits an assault or battery, becomes armed while within. Naturally our legislature and law enforcement’s gravest concern is the person that enters a residence and great harm occurs. As such, the penalty reflects the opinion on severity of allegation.

First degree felony burglary can also be charged when an individual enters an unoccupied dwelling or structure and uses a motor vehicle as a getaway car or causes damage to an alleged victim’s property in excess of $1,000.

A burglary will be considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if:

  • A person burgles a dwelling regardless of whether someone is inside
  • A person burgles a structure and there is someone inside
  • A person burgles a conveyance and there is someone inside
  • A person burgles an authorized emergency vehicle
  • A person burgles a structure or conveyance when the offense intended to be committed within is theft of a controlled substance

A burglary is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine if:

  • A person burgles a structure and there is no one inside
  • A person burgles a conveyance and there is no one inside
What Is an Offense Inside?

Burglary is far too often thought to require a theft in order for the act to be a burglary. This could not be farther from the truth. All that is required is that an “offense” is committed inside of the thing being burgled, meaning that a criminal offense besides trespass is committed. In other words, any crime aside from a trespass can be used to show a burglary has occurred rather than a simple trespass.

What Is the Difference Between Trespass and Burglary?

This is a great question and one that gives rise to a commonly raised defense in a burglary case. Simply stated, a trespass is anytime someone enters onto or into a place they are not supposed to be, or outstays their welcome in a place they originally had permission to be. The criminal act is simply being present where they should be. A burglary requires a person being somewhere they should not be AND when they went there, they intended to commit some additional crime while there. Contrasting examples are below:

Trespass - A drunk person entering a random car they have no permission to be in, to sleep or seek refuge from rain.

Burglary - A drunk person entering a random car they have no permission to be in, and when entering the car, having an intent to steal property in the car. Alternatively, they could have intended to damage the interior of the car when they entered. The key is the intent to commit a further crime once inside.

Is There a Defense?

The Tampa burglary lawyers at The Mayberry Law Firm have handled numerous allegations of this crime over their careers. One of the first things our criminal attorneys evaluate is whether the State can prove that there was actually an intent to commit an offense while within the subject of the burglary. If they cannot, as referenced above, all you really have is a trespass. Tampa criminal lawyer Jason Mayberry once represented an individual accused of drunkenly entering the home of another to steal an iPod. Our client swore he never intended to go in the townhouse residence and was very drunk. With some diligence, we were able to show that the iPod was in the possession of the alleged victim’s son the whole time. With no intent to commit an offense in the townhouse, our client’s charge was reduced to trespass; he accepted the plea offer and moved on with only a misdemeanor on his record.

How Can We Help?

Each attorney in our firm is well versed with the elements necessary to make a case against someone. We will investigate every possible defense available to our client and ensure that no stone is left unturned. At the end of the day, burglary is one of the most serious property crimes a person can be charged with and carries a significant penalty both directly and collaterally if convicted. Not only is the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence present, so too is the looming cloud of becoming a convicted felon. You need an aggressive and dedicated criminal attorney to help you through these allegations. You need The Mayberry Law Firm. Call us today at 813-444-7435.

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