Clearwater Burglary Defense Lawyer
Burglary is a very serious crime in the State of Florida, which could be punishable by decades in prison depending on the facts of the case. Even the lowest level of burglary is likely to lead to several years in prison if the defendant faces the charges without a proper legal defense. If you’ve been arrested for burglary in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey or Tampa, it’s vital that you get an experienced Clearwater burglary defense lawyer on your team as soon as you can. The Clearwater criminal defense legal team at King Law Group is here to help.
Defining Burglary in Florida
Burglary is unlawfully entering a dwelling, structure or conveyance, with the intent to commit a crime within. While burglary can apply to many different cirucmstances, is most commonly associated with a person who unlawfully enters a building or vehicle with the intent to steal property.
The defendant must have had the intention to commit the crime at the time of entry, or at the time they remained after permission to remain was withdrawn. One example of this is, hiding in a store after closing hours in order to commit a theft.
What is a Structure, Dwelling, or Conveyance?
Burglary applies when the crime is committed in a structure, dwelling, or conveyance. A structure refers to any building that has a roof, even if temporary. A dwelling means any building or conveyance that has a roof and is designed to be lived in or occupied at night. A conveyance means any motor vehicle, boat, ship, train, or other vessel.
Burglary vs. Robbery
Burglary and robbery are two distinct crimes in the State of Florida. Whereas burglary refers to theft from a dwelling, structure or conveyance, robbery applies when the defendant takes property directly from a person by way of force or threats. Holding someone up at knifepoint or gunpoint and demanding their wallet, for example, would be considered robbery, while breaking into someone’s home at night and stealing from their safe would be considered burglary.
A defendant might be charged with both robbery and burglary for the same event, however. If a defendant broke into someone’s house while the person was home, proceeding to steal money from the house as well as jewelry from the occupants, they might be charged with both crimes. Robbery can, in fact, serve as the underlying offense for a burglary charge (e.g., breaking into someone’s home intending to steal from that person directly).
Levels of Burglary and Penalties in Florida
Burglary can be charged as a felony of the third, second, or first degree, depending on the circumstances.
Third-degree burglary applies when the defendant unlawfully enters/remains in a structure or conveyance that is unoccupied with the intent to commit a crime within, the defendant does not commit assault or battery, and the defendant is not armed. Third-degree burglary is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Second-degree burglary applies when the defendant, with the intent to commit a crime within, unlawfully enters/remains in a structure or conveyance that is occupied, or a dwelling (whether or not occupied), and the defendant neither is armed nor commits assault or battery. Second-degree burglary is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
First-degree burglary applies when the defendant enters a dwelling, structure or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime within and commits assault or battery; is armed or becomes armed; uses a motor vehicle in the commission of the offense; or causes damage over $1,000. First-degree burglary is punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Defending Against Burglary Charges
A seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney can help craft a number of defenses to burglary charges, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Defenses might include that the defendant did not enter the property unlawfully, such as if they had a license to enter or the property was open to the public. A criminal defense attorney also might also be able to argue that they had no intention to commit an offense at the time that they entered, regardless of what happened. It is the prosecutor’s job to prove all elements of the crime, and any missing element can undermine either the level of the offense or whether any offense was committed at all.
Dedicated Clearwater Burglary Lawyer Ready to Help After Your Central Florida Arrest
If you’ve been arrested for burglary in the Tampa Bay Area, you need a seasoned legal advisor in your corner as soon as possible. A dedicated Clearwater burglary defense lawyer at King Law Group is ready to hear your case. At King Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing tailored and to-the-point service to each of our clients. Your case matters to us, and we’ll be by your side from day one until we obtain the best resolution possible for your criminal case. If you’ve been arrested or charged with burglary in Clearwater, New Port Richey, or anywhere in the Tampa Bay Area, call Clearwater criminal defense law firm King Law Group today for a free consultation.