Categories of Theft Crimes in Florida Part 1: Burglary
For the next several months, we will be using our blog to dissect various forms of theft, or larceny, crimes in the Sunshine State. In this article, we will focus on burglary.
Florida law defines burglary as the act of illegally entering an occupied structure to commit a crime. Even if that intended crime is not carried out, the act of breaking in alone can lead to a burglary charge.
Burglary is often associated with theft, and most burglaries do involve stealing something. However, you could be charged with burglary, even with no intent to steal something. For example, if someone breaks into a house to commit vandalism, but they don’t take anything, this crime is still considered burglary.
Penalties for Burglary in Florida
Burglary is a serious felony offense in Florida and carries severe penalties.
In Florida, burglary of a dwelling is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Burglary of a structure or conveyance is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
If the burglary involves assault or battery, the offender can be charged with a first-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Repeat offenders may also face enhanced penalties.
Defenses Against Burglary Allegations
There are a variety of defenses you can use against burglary allegations, including:
Claim of Actual Innocence
This claim asserts, quite simply, that you did not commit the crime. Actual innocence maintains that the evidence against you is insufficient to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It may also include new evidence that was not presented during a trial, later exonerating the accused. Evidence for actual innocence includes an alibi, lack of motive, mistaken identity, surveillance footage, and more.
Mistaken Identity or Alibi
This defense attempts to prove that you were somewhere else at the time of the burglary, making it impossible for you to have committed the crime. Evidence of an alibi defense includes evidence such as witness statements, surveillance footage, GPS records, communication records, etc.
Lack of Intent to Commit a Crime
In a burglary case, the prosecution must prove that you entered the property to commit a crime, such as theft. You may be able to prove that you did not intend to commit another crime when you entered the premises.
Consent or Permission to Enter the Property
This defense claims that you had lawful authority or permission to enter the property, and therefore, did not commit the crime of burglary. With this defense, you will need evidence of this consent. This may include written or verbal permission or testimony from witnesses.
You may also use this defense for occasions where you believed you had permission, even if you later discover that you didn’t.
Next month, we will discuss Florida’s laws regarding robbery.
The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. is here to help defend you against burglary allegations. For a free consultation, you can reach us by filling out our online contact form or calling us at (561) 475-2752.