Burglary charges are extremely common in Florida and, unfortunately, very serious. Prosecutors and law enforcement will come after you aggressively if you’re been charged with burglary, so it is imperative you contact a strategic criminal defense lawyer like those at Smith & Eulo Law Firm. We’ll work with you to get your charges diminished or even dismissed.

What is the charge of burglary?

You have committed burglary when you unlawfully enter a dwelling, structure, or conveyance (a vehicle) with the intent to commit a forcible felony. Burglary also occurs when you’ve been invited into a building, structure, or conveyance and you enter it with the intent to commit a crime, or when an invitation has been revoked and you remained in the building intending to commit a crime. 

You don’t even have to have fully entered a place to have committed a burglary. If you intended to commit a felony and any part of your body entered a structure, you can be charged with burglary. Additionally, if you entered a building, conveyance, or structure in a secretive manner, criminal intent will be inferred and you can be charged with burglary

What’s the difference between first, second, and third degree burglary?

Burglary always constitutes a felony in Florida and the penalties are largely determined by the unique circumstances of your case and your criminal history. Depending on what occurred, your penalties could include jail time, large fines, restitution, probation and parole, community service, loss of firearm rights, and marks on your permanent records. The three degrees of burglary penalties reflect these variables, and others as determined by the court proceedings.

First Degree Felony

You will be charged with a first degree burglary felony if the structure you entered had people inside of it that you committed assault or battery against. You could also receive this conviction if:

  • You entered the building with explosives or a dangerous weapon
  • You caused $1000 in damage to the property 
  • You used an automobile to help break in, and damaged the structure

Penalties for a first degree burglary felony include life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

Second Degree Felony

You could be charged with a second degree burglary felony if you entered or remained in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit a felony. However, you must not have committed assault or battery against anyone in the dwelling, nor did you use a deadly weapon. 

For this charge, you could face up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and fines as high as $10,000. It should be noted that if you commit a second degree felony burglary during a declared state-of -emergency, your burglary charge will be raised to a first-degree charge.

Third Degree Felony

This is the minimum sentence for burglary charges in Florida. You can be charged with a third degree felony if:

  • You’re found with any tool, machine, or implement with the intent to use them to commit burglary ot trespass
  • There were no other people in the structure, conveyance, or dwelling at the time of your burglary
  • You cut or damaged phone or power lines to facilitate a home invasion

If you’re convicted of a third degree felony burglary you could be imprisoned for up to 5 years and face fines of up to $5,000. As previously mentioned, if you committed these listed acts during a state of emergency, your charges will become a second-degree felony. 

Can a burglary charge be dropped?

In short–yes, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, your burglary charges could be diminished or dropped. To convict you of burglary, a state attorney has to prove beyond a measure of a doubt that you entered a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime. However, unless the defendant confesses to what he or she was thinking, intent has to be determined by the circumstances. 

Burglary and intent to commit a forcible felony is tough to prove, so your prosecutor may consider lesser charges or offer a plea bargain. If intent to commit a crime cannot be adequately proven, you will most likely be charged with criminal trespassing. 

Your Daytona criminal defense attorney will examine every piece of evidence provided by the prosecution for potential strategies to disprove you had criminal intent. Some defenses against burglary charges include:

  • Explaining that you had owner permission to enter the structure and you took something you believed to be yours
  • You were charged with burglary, but you never actually entered the burglarized structure, A person who looked like you did, and this is a case of mistaken identity.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help analyze the situation, and strategize a defense against any prosecutor’s argument that you had criminal intent. It’s important to act quickly when facing burglary charges, since any conviction will have far-reaching consequences in anything you do involving background checks. Contact Smith & Eulo law firm today for a free consultation to discuss your options.