In Florida, the state may prosecute a burglary as a felony in the first degree, second degree, or third degree. State law sets specific criteria to determine the degree of the offense. For a burglary to qualify as a first degree felony, the type of burglary which results in the most severe punishment, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant engaged in assault or battery against any person while committing the burglary, the defendant used a deadly weapon or explosives while committing the burglary, or the defendant became armed with a deadly weapon after entering the premises. In addition, the prosecutor can establish a first degree felony if the defendant used a motor vehicle to damage the dwelling or structure or if the defendant caused over $1,000 in damage to the dwelling or structure during the burglary.
If the defendant did not commit assault or battery and did not use a deadly weapon, the state might prosecute the burglary as a second degree felony. The prosecutor must show that the defendant committed burglary of a type of dwelling, structure, or conveyance specified by the laws of Florida. A dwelling serves as a place for in-habitation, while a structure describes a building of any kind that is not designed for in-habitation or occupation. Conveyances include cars, trailers ships, boats, and other properties. A dwelling may serve as the premises for a burglary regardless of whether anyone was present at the time of the offense. However, if the burglary occurred in a structure or conveyance, the state must show that at least one person there during the burglary in order to qualify as a second degree felony. If nobody was in the structure or conveyance, the state may have to pursue a third degree felony charge.
Defenses to Burglary Charges
- Owner consented to the defendant’s entry or presence on the property
- Premises were open to the public at the time
- Defendant lacked intent to commit a crime
Penalties and Sentences
Florida state laws allow the prosecution of a burglary as a felony in the first degree, second degree, or third degree. The punishment for a conviction depends on the degree of the crime. A third degree felony may result in a term of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of an amount up to $5,000. The sentence may increase to a maximum sentence of imprisonment for fifteen years and a fine of $10,000 for a second degree felony. If the crime qualifies as a first degree felony, the state may request a sentence for a term up to life imprisonment and a fine in an amount up to $10,000.
Though state law sets a maximum sentence for each degree of burglary, the Florida Statutes also allow for increased sentences in certain cases where the defendant has a record of prior felony convictions or qualifies as a career criminal as defined by law.
Defending against Burglary charges are very important from a results standpoint.
Example: If you get into a fight outdoors you could be charged with simple battery a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of one year in jail, but in most cases a fine or a couple of months probation will be the result. If you get into the same fight outdoors under an awning to a home it is a burglary battery which is a felony that carries a maximum of 15 years of Florida State prison and will score you at a minimum of 27 of Florida State Prison.
So defending these cases becomes critical and can turn on very subtle facts. I have defended hundreds of these cases and have the experience and knowledge to get you the best results.