What Constitutes a Burglary and What Are the Possible Consequences of a Burglary Conviction?

I was caught breaking and entering into someone’s home. I didn’t think breaking and entering was that serious of an offense, but now I’m being charged with burglary. 

Unfortunately, most people do not realize the severity of a burglary charge until they are being prosecuted for one. Under Florida law, what is commonly refer to in lay terms as “breaking and entering” is actually the crime of burglary, which can be classified as high as a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison. 

As of July 1, 2001, burglary is defined as entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter; or notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry, remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance: surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense therein; after permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein; or to commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony. Essentially, a burglary is entering without permission, or remaining somewhere after permission was revoked, with the intent to commit a criminal offense. 

Any burglary charge will be a felony, the degree will depend upon the circumstances. Burglary is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison if, while committing the offense, the individual committs an assault or battery, is or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon, or causes property damage exceeding $1,000.00. Burglary is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, if the individual enters or remains in a dwelling, an occupied structure, an occupied conveyance, or an emergency vehicle. It’s also a second-degree felony if the individual enters a structure or conveyance, whether or not it is occupied, with the intent to steal a controlled substance. Burglary is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, if the offender enters or remains in an unoccupied structure or conveyance.  

If a burglary is committed in a county declared to be in a state of emergency by the governor and the burglary is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency such as a power outage, evacuation, curfew,  or a reduction in the presence of or response time for first responders, then the burglary can be a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. 

Given the complexity of the statute on burglary and the severity of the possible sentences, anyone facing a burglary charge should consult with an experienced attorney. An experienced theft crimes attorney can evaluate the case for possible legal defenses or get the charges reduced or dismissed.   

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