A burglary occurs when an individual unlawfully enters a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein. Based on this definition, a burglary may occur in a house, vehicle, or other structure if the person entered with the intent to commit any offense inside. This definition includes conduct not ordinarily considered when a person thinks about the crime of burglary. For instance, if someone unlawfully reaches into an open car window to slap the person sitting inside, it is considered a burglary whether physical contact is made or not. Even if that person did not meet their target, they entered the vehicle with the intent to do so, and have thereby committed a burglary. Even under circumstances in which a person has obtained entry to a place by invitation, license, or public access, remaining in such a place surreptitiously, after permission has been withdrawn, or to commit a forcible felony will still qualify as burglary under Florida law.
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Burglary is an incredibly serious offense that is vigorously prosecuted across the state of Florida. If a person commits an assault or battery, is or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon, or causes damage to the dwelling or structure in excess of $1,000, it is a first degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment. This rule can bring about severe results for what may otherwise be considered a minor crime. Under our previous scenario, if the person was successful in slapping the other individual seated inside the vehicle, that person will have committed a burglary with a battery, punishable by 30 years in prison.
If no assault or battery occurs, and a deadly weapon is not used, it is a second degree felony if a burglary occurs in a dwelling or in a structure or conveyance and another person is inside at the time the burglary is committed. Otherwise, burglary is a third degree felony.
Regarding the “intent to commit an offense” portion of this statute, Florida law provides a legal presumption for finding a person intended to commit an offense if prosecutors can show that the person entered the structure or conveyance stealthily and without consent of the owner or occupant of the premises. At trial, this presumption allows a jury to presume that a person entered a place with the intent to commit an offense inside upon showing that person did not have permission to be there, and that they entered or remained in the property in an effort to go undetected.
Like most charges involving a person as a victim, the intimate and personal nature of the crime of burglary typically results in significant involvement by the victim throughout the criminal case. As a result, these cases are prosecuted aggressively. It is important to have a criminal trial lawyer with experience handling burglary charges who can help you understand both the legal and personal obstacles presented in these cases. Should you find yourself charged with burglary, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of John M. Phillips to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.