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Burglary

Tallahassee Theft attorney

Facing criminal charges for an alleged offense can cause any person to feel overwhelmed or concerned for their future. If a person in Florida is accused of illegally entering a place with the intent to commit a crime, they may be charged with burglary. The State of Florida has categorized burglary into different offenses depending on where the alleged crime took place. All burglary offenses are considered felonies, meaning a conviction will result in extremely expensive fines and the possibility of getting sentenced to a Florida prison.

It is crucial to understand your rights and legal options if you have been charged with burglary. Florida’s legal system recognizes a fair trial and the right to a criminal defense. This means that by working with an experienced defense attorney, you can fight to get the charges against you possibly dismissed or lessened.

This page will dive into the legal definitions and penalties for burglary, along with its potential defenses.

Tallahassee Burglary Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with burglary in Tallahassee or the surrounding area, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm. A burglary conviction can have serious and unfortunate consequences, including jail time and expensive fines. With the widespread use of background checks, a conviction can close opportunities long after the sentence has been completed.

A conviction for Burglary can have serious and unfortunate consequences, even beyond jail time and fines. With the widespread use of background checks, it can close many opportunities, long after the sentence has been completed. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to learn more about how our attorneys can defend your future.


What is Burglary?

Burglary is defined under Florida Statutes Section 810.02 as entering or remaining in a structure, dwelling, or conveyance with the intent to commit a criminal offense inside.

Burglary is broken down into three types:

  • Burglary of a dwelling – Used for any inhabitation, either temporarily or permanently. Includes houses, apartments, or an attached porch with a roof over it.
  • Burglary of a conveyance – Any car, railroad vehicle, ship, vessel, aircraft, or sleeping car.
  • Burglary of a structure – Any building with a roof over it that is not designed for inhabitation, such as an office building.

Depending on the type of property where the alleged burglary took place, it may impact the penalties if the defendant is convicted.

Exemptions from the burglary law include:

  • Instances where the premises were open to the public at the time of the alleged offense;
  • The defendant is licensed to enter or remain at the place where the alleged burglary occurred; or
  • An owner or authorized person invited the defendant inside.

If permission to remain was withdrawn and the defendant remained inside with the intent to commit an offense, he or she may be charged with burglary.

Forcible Felonies

Burglary is also defined as when a person attempts to commit or commits a forcible felony. Codified under Florida Statute Section 776.08, a forcible felony includes any of the following:

Elements of Burglary

The State of Florida provides that the prosecution must prove all following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of a burglary charge:

  1. The defendant entered a dwelling, structure, or conveyance;
  2. At the time the defendant entered, they had the intent to commit an offense inside such as theft, assault, or any other criminal act;
  3. The dwelling, structure, or conveyance that was entered by the defendant belonged to someone else or was in the lawful possession of another person.

It is important to remember that each type of burglary offense may differ in the elements of proof and the resulting penalties.

Burglary Penalties

In Florida, a burglary offense can be charged as a third-, second-, or first-degree felony depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Burglary as a third-degree felony – Penalties include up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000 if the offender:

  • Does not commit assault or battery and is not armed with a dangerous weapon or explosive; and
  • Remains in or enters an unoccupied structure; or
  • Remains in or enters an unoccupied conveyance.

Burglary as a second-degree felony – Penalties include up to 15 years in Florida state prison and up to $10,000 in fines if the offender:

  • Enters or remains in a dwelling;
  • Enters or remains in a structure that is occupied at the time of the offense;
  • Enters or remains in an occupied conveyance;
  • Enters or remains in an authorized emergency vehicle; or,
  • Enters a structure or conveyance with the intent to commit Theft of a Controlled Substance.

Burglary is a first-degree felony – Penalties include up to 30 years in Florida state prison and up to $10,000 in fines, if the offender:

  • Commits assault or battery on a person; or
  • Is armed or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance with explosives or a dangerous weapon; or,
  • Enters any dwelling or structure, and,
    • Uses the vehicle to assist in committing the offense, damaging the dwelling or structure (not as just a getaway vehicle); or
    • Causes more than $1,000 in damage to the dwelling, structure, or property.

Burglary and the “Intent to Commit the Crime”

Florida law also provides for certain inferences that work like shortcuts for the prosecution. For example, Florida Statutes § 810.07 provides that In a trial on the charge of burglary, proof of the entering of such structure or conveyance at any time stealthily and without consent of the owner or occupant thereof is prima facie evidence of entering with intent to commit an offense.”

The entry does not necessarily have to include the whole body of the defendant. It is sufficient if the defendant, with the intent to commit a crime, extends any part of his body into the structure, dwelling or conveyance.

Burglary vs Robbery

Despite common confusion, burglary and robbery are two different offenses. When a person is accused of robbery, it implies they have allegedly taken someone else’s property by using violence or force. When a person is accused of burglary, it implies they have allegedly entered a property with the intent to commit a crime but it does not require the existence of force or violence.

Offenses Related to Burglary

  • Possession of Burglary ToolsFlorida Statute Section 810.06 explains it is a third-degree felony for any person who has any tool, machine, or implement in their possession which is used or attempted to use in the furtherance of a burglary or trespassing offense.
  • Impeding or Impairing Power or Telephone to a Dwelling to Further or Facilitate a Burglary – Florida Statute Section 810.061 explains it is a third-degree felony for any person to damage a wire or line transmitting, or conveying a telephone or power service into a dwelling for the purpose of furthering a burglary offense.

Defense to Burglary Charges

The primary defense used in burglary cases in Florida involves the person accused of burglary showing that he had an invitation or license to enter or that the premises were open to the public. See State v. Hicks, 421 So. 2d 510 (Fla. 1982); & State v. Waters, 436 So. 2d 66 (Fla. 1983).

In addition, the following lists potential defenses to use against a burglary charge:

  • Lack of intent to commit a crime;
  • Lack of evidence;
  • Mistaken identity;
  • Place did not meet the requirements for a structure, dwelling, or conveyance;
  • Legitimate presence; or
  • Mistaken permission from owner or occupant.

As each burglary case will differ in detail, it is important to consult with a defense attorney in your area to determine which defenses are applicable to your case.

Pumphrey Law | Burglary Defense Lawyers in Tallahassee

If you have been accused of burglary, law enforcement investigators and prosecutors will use every detail and word you say to build a case against you. To get ahead of the charges and start building a strong defense to fight your case, prioritize speaking with a legal professional near you. It is best to contact a defense lawyer as soon after the initial arrest as possible. This allows your attorney to gather time-sensitive evidence and testimony to use in your defense. The more time you wait, the more time you give the prosecution to create a case against you.

Don Pumphrey and his team have spent years working to represent and free the names of those wrongfully charged in Florida. We vow to stand by your side and fight for your future. Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 and schedule a free legal consultation with a defense attorney today.


Page last updated June 9, 2023

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