How Can I Defend Against a Burglary Charge?
The crime of burglary is often misunderstood. It is not simply entering a place where you don’t belong. Legally, that behavior is “trespassing.”
In Florida, a burglary happens when someone illegally enters a place to commit a crime. If a group of teens breaks into a place to commit vandalism, they’ve committed burglary. When a cat burglar enters a home to steal jewels, they are a burglar.
This is a serious offense, and it requires a solid defense. Remember, our system always assumes you are innocent until proven guilty. You deserve your day in court, and you can always fight any charge against you. Here are some potential defenses against burglary that you can discuss with your attorney.
You Were in a Diminished Mental State
A good criminal prosecution should show intent to commit a crime. This is especially true for a burglary charge, where the intent to commit a secondary crime is baked into the charge.
If you can prove that you were mentally incapacitated at the time of the alleged burglary, you may be able to maintain your innocent. Perhaps you were on a prescription that put you into a mental fog. Maybe you were suffering from a mental condition that left you confused. A good defense attorney could even argue that you were intoxicated and unable to make clear decisions.
Don’t confuse this defense with an insanity plea. This defense is for people who are severely mentally ill. They probably cannot care for themselves, and they may not even understand what’s happening in court. If a court agrees that they are too ill to function, it will put them into a high-security facility.
You Only Entered the Premises
To be clear, entering a place where you don’t belong is a crime. It is called trespassing, and it is far less severe than burglary. Trespassing is a misdemeanor that could result in 60 days in jail. At its worst, burglary is a felony that could mean years in prison.
Discuss the exact details of your allegation with your attorney. They may be able to prove that you didn’t intend to commit any further crimes while you were at the location in question. This could help you receive a far lighter sentence with fewer long-lasting ramifications.
You Were Operating Under Duress
Sometimes, criminals use other people to commit crimes, redirecting the heat off themselves. If someone forced you to commit a crime by threatening you or your family, you can claim that you were coerced. Tell your entire story to your attorney. If they see an element of duress in your case, they can use this fact to help defend you in court.
Duress claims don’t always result in innocence. The court may still hold you responsible for your actions, but it can also show compassion toward your situation. It may simply order probation, community service, or another lighter sentence.
Next month, we will detail the various penalties for committing burglary in Florida.
If you need help with a burglary defense, call (561) 475-2752 today for a free consultation. You may also contact us online.