Burglary of a Dwelling
You can be charged with burglary of a dwelling in Florida if you broke into a home or another place where people live. This is a charge that is taken very seriously, and harsh penalties are imposed upon people who are convicted. If you are charged with burglary of a dwelling or any other type of burglary, such as burglary of a structure, you should retain St. Petersburg burglary defense lawyer Will Hanlon. At Hanlon Law, we strongly believe in protecting the rights of the accused.Burglary of a Dwelling
Under Florida Statutes section 810.02, burglary of a dwelling can be charged if the prosecutor can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you entered a dwelling that was owned or possessed by somebody else, and you entered with the intent of perpetrating an offense in the dwelling. The prosecutor can also secure a conviction by showing that you legally came into a dwelling, and you either stayed inside surreptitiously intending to perpetrate an offense, stayed after permission to stay inside the dwelling was withdrawn, intending to perpetrate an offense, or stayed while intending to perpetrate or trying to perpetrate a forcible felony within it.
A dwelling is a permanent or temporary building that has a roof and is either mobile or immobile, which is designed to be lived in or occupied by people at night, along with any surrounding grounds and outbuildings immediately next to it. Thus, for example, if you broke into your neighbor's house while intending to steal from his safe, this would be burglary of a dwelling. Similarly, if you broke into an in-law unit attached to a friend's home, intending to rape an ex-girlfriend whom you knew was staying there, this would also be burglary. Moreover, if you tried to get into or actually entered the dwelling at issue stealthily, the jury is entitled to infer that you went in with criminal intent.
The penalties depend on the type of dwelling, how the offense was perpetrated, whether you used a weapon, and other factors. Generally, burglary of a dwelling will be charged as a first-degree felony if you committed battery or assault in the course of burglarizing, or if you became armed with a dangerous weapon or explosives within the dwelling. For example, if you were caught going into someone's home with an automatic handgun to steal his valuables, and you hit the person whom you found inside with the gun, you could be charged with a first-degree felony. It can also be charged as a first-degree felony if you went into a dwelling and used a motor vehicle, other than as a getaway car, to help perpetrate the crime and damaged the dwelling, or if you caused damage to the dwelling in an amount over $1,000. You can face the possibility of life imprisonment for a first-degree burglary conviction.
Burglary of a dwelling may be charged as a second-degree felony involving penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, 15 years’ probation, and a $10,000 fine if you did not carry a dangerous weapon and did not commit an assault, but there was somebody in the dwelling when you entered or stayed, or even if there was not.
There is a hood or mask enhancement for burglary of a dwelling while wearing a hood or mask. Under Florida Statutes section 775.0845, if you wear a mask while perpetrating a criminal offense, the felony or misdemeanor degree of the offense will be reclassified to the next higher degree. For example, if you are charged with burglary of a dwelling in the third degree, but the prosecution can show that you were wearing a mask, the offense will be reclassified to a felony of the second degree. And similarly, if you are charged with burglary of a dwelling in the second degree, the mask enhancement will result in a reclassification to the first degree.
There may be strong defenses available, and you should consult a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney as soon as you realize that you are being investigated. One defense might involve showing that you did not have the requisite intent when entering the dwelling. Another defense may be consent or invitation, or incomplete withdrawal of an invitation. Another defense may be mistaken identity. In some cases, it is possible to attack the mask or hood enhancement aspect to make sure that you are not charged with a higher-level charge.Contact a Dedicated St. Petersburg Attorney for Your Felony Charge
Burglary of a dwelling is a very serious charge, and it is often levied in addition to other charges involving the crime that a defendant allegedly intended to commit. If you are looking for a vigorous lawyer to fight charges of burglary of a dwelling, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation in the St. Petersburg area since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413 or submit our online form.