Burglary Frequently Asked Questions
Burglary Under Florida Law - FAQs
- What are the different types of burglary under Florida Law?
- surreptitiously, with 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- after permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein, or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
Before getting into the types of burglary under Florida law, it is important to understand what a burglary is in this state. The statutory (and it is contained in Florida Statute 810.02) definition of burglary consists of the following steps or elements:
1) entering a dwelling (home or residence), structure (building of some sort) or conveyance (vehicle) with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant/accused is licensed or invited to enter, OR,
2) Notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry, remaining in a dwelling, structure or conveyance,
In plainer language this means that if you enter into someone else’s home, building or vehicle, whether you break in or not, without permission, with the intent to commit some sort of crime, you are committing a burglary. This can be confusing due to older language associated with burglary of “breaking and entering”, which makes people think that if they don’t break into the premises then it is not a burglary. That’s not the case – if you enter into the premises, whether through breaking in or just opening an unlocked door, and you have intent to commit an offense, that’s a burglary. If you were invited in or were licensed to be there, but at some point your permission to be there is withdrawn by the owner of the property, and you don’t leave and you have intent to commit an offense there, that becomes a burglary. That can cause some confusion too, because many people think that if they are invited guests that if something happens at the premises where they were invited it can’t be a burglary. As soon as the owner or person who is allowing you to be there asks you to leave, and you don’t leave and intend to commit an offense there it becomes a burglary.
All burglaries are felonies under Florida law. They are broken down as follows:
It is a first degree felony punishable by life in prison if in the course of committing the offense of burglary, (1) the person makes an assault or battery on any one, or (2) the person is or becomes armed within the premises with explosives or a dangerous weapon, or (3) the person enters an occupied or unoccupied dwelling or structure, and either uses a car to commit the burglary and damages the dwelling or structure, or causes damage to the dwelling or structure, in excess of $1,000.0..
It is a second degree felony (punishable by up to 15 years in prison) if in the course of committing the offense the person doesn’t make an assault or battery, and doesn’t become armed, and the person enters or remains in a:
- Occupied home or residence (dwelling) – in other words if there’s someone at the house at the time the burglary takes place;
- Home or residence (dwelling) and there is no one there when the person enters or remains;
- Structure (some sort of building besides a home), and there’s another person there at the time;
- Vehicle (car or truck of some sort), and there’s another person in the conveyance at the time;
- Structure or vehicle when the offense intended to be committed therein is theft of controlled substances.
It is a third degree felony (punishable by up to 5 years in prison) if in the course of committing the offense the person doesn’t make an assault or battery, and doesn’t become armed, and the person enters or remains in a:
- Structure, and there is not another person in the structure at the time
- Conveyance (car or vehicle), and there is no one in the car at the time it is entered.
Obviously the law in Florida puts a very high punishment on any burglary associated with going into or remaining in a house without permission (Burglary of a dwelling, whether occupied or not)..
As mentioned above, there is a specific crime of “Burglary of a dwelling”, which just means burglary to a home, or a place designed to house people to sleep at night. That can include an conveyance where it is a camper or RV, since those are designed to allow people to sleep in them. It is also important to note that a dwelling includes the surrounding area immediate around the house – like any porches, back deck areas right next to the house, or any area immediately next to the house. Burglary of a residence or dwelling is the most serious of burglaries under Florida law. There are numerous defenses to this offense, but due to the serious penalties for Burglary of a dwelling it very important that you secure representation from an experienced lawyer to guide you. David P. Hill has been handling these types of cases for 28 years, and help you with these very serious types of charges.
The most serious aggravated burglaries (where an assault or battery occurs, where the alleged offender is or becomes armed, or where significant property damage takes place) are first degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison.
A burglary involves entering into or remaining in a house, building or car without permission, with the intent to commit an offense. Those can be occupied by a person or not (with differing penalties). A robbery is a forcible taking of someone’s property from their person – so it does necessitate taking property from an actual person. Breaking into or sneaking into someone’s house when no one is there and taking their property would be a burglary, not a robbery.
If a person commits a robbery while committing a burglary, they are generally charged with home invasion robbery or burglary with an assault or battery, but not with both burglary and robbery.
No. Theft is taking someone else’s property either permanently or temporarily without their permission. Robbery is forcibly (by actual physical taking or by some sort of physical threat) taking someone’s property from their person (without their permission). You can commit a theft by taking someone’s property when the person is not there and is not aware it is being taken. A robbery involves the other person’s property being taken from their person.
If the accused is not found in the premises (home/building or car) at the time of the burglary, often times fingerprints will be lifted from the crime scene and used as evidence that the person accused was inside the premises without permission. Video taken by home security systems are on the rise as well, as they capture high quality video of the person inside the premises. Eyewitness testimony can be used if a passerby or neighbor sees and can identify a person leaving the area of a burglary. Another method of establishing a burglary is if someone takes property taken in a burglary to a pawn shop – law enforcement can contact the person who pawned the stolen property and question them, which may lead to a burglary charge.
Yes, breaking into a house without permission (– there are exceptions in emergency situations like fighting a fire, or in emergency scenarios like clearing an area due to an impending hurricane) would be considered a burglary. Again, remember that burglary does not require a person to break a window or door to gain entry – you can be charged with burglary for opening an unlocked door and entering without permission. Also, you can be charged with burglary after being invited into a home, then being asked to leave by the owner, refusing to do so and then either committing an offense there or just intending to commit an offense there.