Burglary is Among the Top Crimes in Florida
A recent report issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows that burglaries are up in most parts of the state. According to ABC Action News, advances in technology – such as door cameras – are helping police identify and arrest more of these criminals. Plus, various law enforcement agencies throughout Florida are banding together in task forces intended to reduce various types of crimes. Their strategy may be working: In Broward County, there have been 4,349 burglaries between January and June 2016, down from 5,071 during that same time period in 2015. As police are cracking down on burglary and theft crimes, a strong criminal defense is more important than ever.
Burglary is a Distinct Theft Crime: Generally, burglary is defined as entering a structure, dwelling, or conveyance unlawfully and with the intent to commit a crime inside. It can also mean remaining upon a premises after permission to stay has been withdrawn. There are three distinct burglary crimes, which are significant because the penalties are different depending on the offense.
- Burglary of a Dwelling: When the building is intended for lodging of people at night, the premises and surrounding structure is considered a dwelling. This type of burglary is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and an additional period of probation. Plus, you may receive a fine up to $10,000.
- Burglary of a Structure: A “structure” is defined as a temporary or permanent building with a roof over it, which is not used for lodging at night. The penalties for burglarizing a structure depend on whether it’s occupied or unoccupied when committing the crime. If there are no people inside, the offense is a third degree felony punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the structure is occupied, the crime is a second degree felony with the same penalties described above.
- Burglary of a Conveyance: Any motorized craft is considered a conveyance under Florida law, including a car, ship, boat, railroad vehicle, trailer, aircraft, and similar vessels. Burglary of a conveyance is also a third degree felony.
Defenses to Burglary Charges: You can fight burglary charges by contesting any of the elements of the crime, including:
- Consent: You cannot be convicted of burglary if someone within the structure, dwelling or conveyance gave you permission to be there.
- Public Space: If a structure is open to the public, you have permission to enter and cannot be convicted of burglary.
Keep in mind that, while you cannot be convicted of burglary under the two defenses above, you may face charges for any crime committed inside the structure or dwelling. You may still be arrested for theft, assault, battery, or any other offense which doesn’t rely upon unlawful entering as an element of the crime.
Talk to a Florida Criminal Lawyer About Your Options
If you’ve been arrested or burglary or other theft crimes in Florida, it’s critical to consult with a qualified attorney about your strategy to fight the charges. You may be able to reduce the counts or the penalties by presenting a strong defense, but you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t have a legal background. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kevin J. Kulik has extensive experience representing clients in theft crimes cases and can tell you more about your options. Please contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation or with questions about your case.