How Does Florida Define Burglary of Conveyance?

July 22, 2022 Criminal Defense, Theft/Property Crimes

There are different variations when it comes to burglary or theft crimes in Florida. One specific type of theft crime is referred to as burglary of a conveyance, or an “auto burglary.” To be arrested and charged with this type of crime, prosecutors must be able to prove that you have trespassed into a vehicle, and with the intention to commit a crime. 

We will define conveyance and a burglary of conveyance charge, along with its potential penalties and defenses.

Defining Conveyance

A conveyance is referred to as any vehicle used for transportation. This can include cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, boats, trains, trailers, or aircrafts.

Burglary of conveyance is defined under Florida Statute 810.02, which explains it as when an illegal activity has taken place within or around a vehicle or mode of transport that does not belong to the defendant.

In a burglary of a conveyance charge, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Entered the conveyance without permission (or remained in the conveyance after permission has been revoked)

Intent to commit a crime while in the conveyance

It is important to note that the defendant’s entire body does not need to have entered the vehicle—even just an arm or a hand is enough to receive a burglary of conveyance charge. The must also be a clear intent to commit a crime after breaking into the vehicle. It is not necessary that the alleged crime be completed, the prosecutor just needs to show that the defendant had the necessary intent.

Penalties for Burglary of Conveyance

Burglary of conveyance can be categorized into a third-, second-, or first-degree felony, which all depend on the specific circumstances of the alleged crime. The factors the determine the severity of the crime are as follows:

  • If the vehicle was occupied with another person inside during the time of the alleged crime
  • If the defendant was armed with a weapon
  • If the alleged burglary took place during a state of emergency or riot

If the burglary of conveyance took place in which the car was unoccupied, the defendant was not armed, and there were no damages done to the vehicle or surrounding property, then it is considered a third-degree felony. The penalty for a third-degree felony is up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

For a burglary of conveyance charge to result in a second-degree felony, any of the following must be proven:

  • The conveyance was occupied during the alleged crime, but the defendant was unarmed
  • The main target of the burglary was a controlled substance
  • The burglary took place during a riot or state of emergency
  • The conveyance is an authorized emergency vehicle

The penalty for a second-degree felony burglary of conveyance chare is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

For a burglary of conveyance charge to result in a first-degree felony, any of the following must be proven:

  • The conveyance was occupied during the alleged crime and the defendant assaulted them during the crime
  • The defendant was armed or becomes armed
  • The conveyance was used to help assist in the burglary
  • The alleged burglary resulted in $1,000 or more in damages

The penalty for a first-degree felony burglary of conveyance charge is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Potential Defenses to Burglary of Conveyance

If you have been arrested on a burglary of conveyance charge, you may feel as if you have no options. However, there are still potential defenses a defendant can use for their case. The best way to ensure you have a strong defense built for your criminal case, it is imperative to seek out the legal help of a skilled defense attorney.

The following are a list of potential defenses to a burglary of conveyance charge:

  • No Criminal Intent – In order to prove that burglary of conveyance has occurred, the prosecution must be able to show that there was the intent to commit a crime. There are instances in which someone would enter a vehicle in which does not belong to them, which is for a non-criminal reason. An example would be trying to escape a threat, or taking shelter from bad weather. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant was intending to enter the vehicle to commit a crime, it stands as a valid defense to the case.
  • Non-Participant – If there were two people arrested at the scene of a burglary of conveyance crime, both individuals may be charged with the same crime. That is the case even if there was only one person who was actually caught inside of the vehicle. Although the second person could be accused of standing guard and being an accomplice to the crime, there are other scenarios in which one person may decide to spontaneously break into a vehicle. If the second person is just in the same vicinity as the individual who broke in, it should not warrant a conviction of a burglary of conveyance crime. A strong defense attorney can help build a case stating that the defendant who was onlooking didn’t partake in any illegal activity, or convince the other individual into committing the crime.
  • Consent was Provided – Another defense to a burglary of conveyance charge could be that the defendant was granted permission to enter the vehicle. This is a common defense when there are two or more owners of a particular vehicle, where one provides consent to the defendant without informing the other owner.

The best way to build a strong defense to a burglary of conveyance charge is to contact a skilled defense attorney in your area. To find out more about the various types of burglary charges in Florida, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of a crime is extremely stressful, and impossible to navigate on your own. The best way to take on a criminal charge is to work with an experienced burglary of a conveyance defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state, and understand the importance of strategizing a strong defense. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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