If you are caught breaking into someone else's home or car, whether to steal from them or to commit another illegal act, such as rape or battery, you can be charged with burglary. Burglary is a very serious crime. The Florida statute for burglary is somewhat complicated, and as with other crimes, a conviction is not guaranteed. If you are charged with burglary, it is critical to retain an experienced Clearwater burglary defense lawyer. At Hanlon Law, we protect the rights of people accused of burglary and other theft crimes.Fighting a Burglary Charge in Florida
Burglary comes in three degrees. A prosecutor hoping to establish burglary under Florida Statute section 810.02 must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you: (1) went into someone else's dwelling, conveyance, or structure, (2) intending to commit a crime while inside. Dwellings are places where people live — usually someone's home. Structures are any type of building that is not used or designed for living inside. Conveyances are forms of transportation like a car or a boat. For example, if you broke a window in someone's yacht, planning to steal the owner's valuables and electronics, this would be burglary. For another example, if you broke into your ex-girlfriend's home while intending to assault her, this would also be burglary.
A prosecutor could also charge burglary if you: (1) lawfully (2) went inside a dwelling, conveyance, or structure (3) and remained inside after permission was taken away, intending to commit a crime, or surreptitiously intended to commit a crime or intended to commit a forcible felony inside. For example, if you went into a museum and stayed after hours planning to steal artifacts, you could be charged with burglary. For another example, if you went to dinner at a friend's home while planning to assault her daughter, you could be charged with burglary.
You do not need to fully enter a dwelling, structure, or conveyance to be charged with burglary. A burglary defense attorney in Clearwater can explain the nuances of this statute. You also need not be successful in your attempt to commit the crime that you intended to commit inside. The crime of burglary is complete if you have the intent to commit a crime and put just a finger or limb inside the conveyance, structure, or dwelling. For example, even if what you did was put your arm inside a window that was open, intending to go inside and steal from a safe that you knew was inside, but you were interrupted by an alarm going off, you could still be charged with burglary.
The least serious type of burglary is a third-degree burglary charge, which is punished by a maximum of 5 years’ incarceration and a $5,000 fine. The next most serious type of burglary is second-degree burglary, which can result in a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The most serious burglary charge is first-degree felony burglary. For this, you face the risk of life imprisonment, although a Clearwater burglary defense attorney may be able to argue for a reduction in the charge.
A conviction is never guaranteed. Prosecutors need to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a tough standard. Thus, it is important to consult an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney about mounting a strong defense. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to raise a reasonable doubt about your intent of committing a crime inside. Sometimes, the circumstances are such that you may have entered with the owner's permission. In other cases, such as those involving grainy surveillance footage or a witness who is not credible, we may be able to argue mistaken identity.Hire a Burglary Defense Lawyer in Clearwater or Surrounding Communities
Burglary charges are serious and carry a real risk of prison time. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as you realize that you are being investigated. Even after you have served your time, a criminal record can make it challenging to find a job, rent an apartment, qualify for a professional license, and more. Will Hanlon has defended the accused since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or contact us through our online form.