In Florida, burglary is a property crime in which someone comes into or onto another person's property, intending to engage in illegal activity. In order to secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove that a defendant came onto the property specifically intending to perpetrate a crime. For example, someone might come into a home to steal a TV or artwork from the people inside. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg burglary defense lawyer Will Hanlon provides legal representation to people being investigated or charged with this serious offense.Fighting a Burglary Charge
Under Florida Statute section 810.02, a burglary occurs when a defendant goes into a structure, dwelling, or conveyance owned by or in possession of someone else, and at the time of entry, the defendant intended to perpetrate a criminal offense inside it. Alternatively, it occurs if a defendant legally goes into a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with consent or permission and stays inside either:
- Surreptitiously intending to perpetrate an offense inside; or
- After permission to stay inside has been withdrawn, and with the intent to perpetrate an offense inside; or
- Intending to perpetrate or trying to perpetrate a forcible felony inside.
In Florida, you can be prosecuted for a burglary as a felony in the first, second, or third degree. If you used a motor vehicle to damage the structure or dwelling at issue, or you damaged a structure or dwelling in an amount over $1,000, you can be charged with a first-degree felony. Most likely, if you did not perpetrate a battery or assault in addition to burglary, and you did not use a deadly weapon, the burglary will be charged as a second-degree felony.
A prosecutor needs to show that the burglary was of a "dwelling," "structure," or "conveyance." A burglary defense attorney can explain to St. Petersburg residents what these terms mean. Generally, a dwelling is a place where people live. However, you can be charged with burglary of a dwelling even if nobody was inside when you broke in. A structure is any sort of building not designed for living within or occupying it. A conveyance can include any vehicle used for transportation, such as a car, trailer, or boat.
You can be charged with burglary even if your entry into the conveyance, structure, or building does not include your entire body. The crime would be complete if you had the requisite intent and extended any part of your body into a building, structure, or vehicle. For example, if you were interrupted by a neighborhood security officer with your leg and arm inside a window, with the intent of stealing a big-screen television from a home, but you ran away without actually going inside, you could still be charged with burglary. However, you should consult a St. Petersburg burglary defense attorney who can investigate your specific situation.
If you are charged with a first-degree felony, you face the possibility of up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. With a second-degree felony burglary charge, you may be sentenced to up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. With a third-degree felony burglary charge, you may be imprisoned for up to five years and receive a $5,000 fine.
There may be strong defenses available. All criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If a St. Petersburg criminal lawyer can raise a reasonable doubt about one or more elements, this may be a strong defense. For example, we may be able to argue that you did not have the intent to commit a crime inside the dwelling, structure, or conveyance. Or we may be able to argue, depending on the circumstances, that the premises were open to the public when you entered, or you entered with the permission of the owner. In certain cases, it is possible to defend a charge by arguing that there is insufficient proof about the identity of the person who broke in, or that there is a case of mistaken identity. It may be appropriate to argue that you had a mistaken belief about permission from the owner or inadequate withdrawal of permission to be present.Consult an Experienced Burglary Defense Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
Charges of burglary can be very serious. If you are looking for a tough and experienced lawyer to fight charges of burglary, grand theft, or another property crime in St. Petersburg, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Will Hanlon has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.