All burglaries are felonies and are considered very serious crimes. If you're facing a burglary charge or arrest in Lake Worth, contact the experienced burglary attorneys at Bottari & Doyle to start defending your case. We will fight for you, and we will leave no stone unturned as we look for weaknesses in the prosecutor's case that we can take advantage of. Don't give up and don't take a plea deal too early – call today for a free case evaluation from the Lake Worth criminal defense law firm of Bottari & Doyle.
Burglary Offenses in Lake Worth
Florida state law defines “burglary” as:
- Entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter; or;
- Notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry remaining in a dwelling, structure or conveyance:
- Surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense therein;
- After permission to remain therein has been withdrawn and with the intent to commit an offense therein; or;
- To commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony.
The state classifies burglary into three separate crimes, depending on where the burglary occurred: burglary of a conveyance, structure or dwelling.
- Burglary of a Conveyance occurs when a person enters a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein. A conveyance means any “motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad car, trailer, or aircraft.” In these cases, the conveyance is usually a car, and the defendant typically enters the car to commit a theft (the offense therein). For example, if a person breaks into a car and steals the owner's iPhone, the person has committed Burglary of a Conveyance.
- Burglary of a Structure occurs when a person enters a structure with the intent to commit an offense therein. A structure means, “any building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, that has a roof over it, and the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding the structure.” In these cases, a person typically enters a business or store with the intent to commit a theft (the offense therein).
- Burglary of a Dwelling occurs when a person enters a dwelling with the intent to commit an offense therein. A dwelling means, “a building or conveyance of any kind, whether such building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding it. A dwelling includes an attached porch or attached garage.” A dwelling is essentially a building or a conveyance designed to be used as a home or residence. The offense typically occurs when a person enters someone's home to steal something from inside the home.
Penalties for Burglary in Lake Worth
Burglary is a first degree felony, punishable by up life imprisonment, if in the course of committing the offense, the offender:
- Makes an assault or battery upon any person; or
- Is or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, with explosives or a dangerous weapon; or
- Enters an occupied or unoccupied dwelling or structure, and:
- Uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense, and thereby damages the dwelling or structure; or
- Causes damage to the dwelling or structure, or to property within the dwelling or structure in excess of $1,000.
Burglary is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison, if in the course of committing the offense the offender is not armed and does not commit an assault or battery, and the offender enters or remains in a:
- Dwelling (house, residence) occupied or unoccupied by another person.
- Structure (store, business, restaurant) occupied by another person.
- Conveyance (car, boat) occupied by another person.
- Authorized emergency vehicle (fire truck, police vehicles)
- Structure or Conveyance when the intended offense to be committed is theft of a controlled substance.
Burglary is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison, if in the course of committing the offense, the offender is not armed and does not commit an assault or battery, and the offender enters or remains in a:
- Structure (store, business, restaurant) unoccupied by another person.
- Conveyance (car, boat) unoccupied by another person.
Defenses to Burglary Charges in Lake Worth
Burglary is a very serious offense with very serious consequences. It is absolutely essential for a defendant charged with burglary to speak to a qualified burglary and criminal defense lawyer. Some of the more common legal defenses to burglary include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of Intent to Commit an Offense: The State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit an offense at the time the defendant entered the dwelling, structure or conveyance, or intended to commit an offense when remaining in the dwelling, structure or conveyance. Intent is typically proven by testimony explaining the defendant's sneaky behavior. However, if a defendant can show that he or she entered the premises for a lawful reason, such as to avoid rainfall, then he or she cannot be convicted of burglary.
- Consent: Consent is an affirmative defense to Burglary. This means that the defense must offer some evidence of consent. Once the evidence of consent is presented, the prosecutor must disprove consent beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Open to the Public: If a place is open to the public, then a person has consensually entered the place, regardless of his or her subjective intentions.
Possession of Burglary Tools in Lake Worth
In addition to Burglary charges, there is also Possession of Burglary Tools, which is another serious crime. The prosecutor must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial to convict a defendant of possessing burglary tools. The three elements are:
- The defendant intended to commit a burglary or trespass.
- The defendant possessed tools during the burglary that he intended to use, or allowed to be used, in the commission of the burglary or trespass.
- The defendant made some overt act towards the commission of the burglary or trespass.
The crime of Possession of Burglary Tools in Florida is a third degree felony, punishable by up to any combination of the following:
- Five years in prison
- Five years of probation
- $5,000 fine.
There are many defenses to the crime of Possession of Burglary Tools. The following is a list of common defenses:
- No Intent to Use Tools: The State must be able to prove that not only did the defendant have the tools in his possession, but that he used or intended to use the tools during the burglary or trespass. Mere possession is not enough.
- No Overt Act: The defendant must actually take some action towards committing a burglary or trespass.
- No Physical Possession of Tools: The state must be able to prove that the defendant possessed the tools during the burglary/trespass or attempted burglary/trespass.
If you have been arrested or charged with Burglary or Possession of Burglary Tools, contact a Lake Worth burglary lawyer at Bottari & Doyle for a free case evaluation.