Burglary Charges in South Florida and How to Fight Them

Burglary charges in South Florida are serious criminal charges that can result in jail time, fines, and permanent files in your criminal record. To fight against or attempt to reduce these charges, a Miami criminal defense attorney may be necessary to help plead your case. 

Defining Burglary in South Florida 

The Florida statutes define 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” 

The definition also includes the following considerations for crimes committed after July 1, 2001 when the statute was revised: 

“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  • after permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein; or
  • to commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony.” 

In simple terms, if you enter a building with the intent to commit an offense or remain in a building without invitation you are committing burglary in South Florida. 

The Location of the Burglary is Important 

Depending on where the burglary charges take place can determine the criminal charges you will face. An experienced Miami criminal defense attorney can help argue the location of the burglary incident and attempt to reduce the charges. Burglary of a dwelling such as a house carries higher criminal charges than burglary of a vehicle. 

If you merely jump a fence and steal property in a yard you have not technically entered the dwelling. In many cases, the prosecution will attempt to include curtilages, structures adjacent to a house such as hedges or fences, as part of the dwelling. This may increase your burglary charges in South Florida from theft to dwelling burglary. Your Miami criminal defense attorney will help you fight this increase as you did not enter the dwelling itself.  

Burglary Charges in South Florida When Taking Place at a Dwelling 

When the suspected criminal activity that led to your arrest takes place in a dwelling you may be facing criminal charges of a 2nd degree felony. These charges are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. This is only if there are no additional charges of assault or battery and you were not armed at the time. 

If you are accused of:  

  • assault or battery on another;
  • being armed while within the dwelling;
  • using a motor vehicle to assist in entering the dwelling; or
  • causing damage to the dwelling or property in excess of $1,000, 

you may be charged with a 1st degree felony. A 1st degree felony is punishable by up to life in prison, and the 10/20/Life laws apply to use of a deadly weapon. 

Burglary Charges in South Florida at a Structure or Conveyance 

Burglary charges in South Florida when the offense takes place at a structure or conveyance are considered 3rd degree felonies, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. A structure is considered a building with a roof but not one that is used for lodging. A conveyance is defined as a motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle/car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car. 

The burglary charges in South Florida may increase to a 2nd degree felony if you commit the burglary of a structure or conveyance while there is another person inside at the time you enter. There are also many other factors that can increase your criminal charges, so it is important to have a Miami criminal defense attorney to help you understand and fight these charges. 

Additional Criminal Charges Associated with Burglary 

Committing burglary during a state of emergency will increase the criminal charges to a 1st degree felony if the burglary is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency. This applies to activities such as looting and vandalism during natural disasters such as hurricanes which are a somewhat common occurrence in South Florida’s tropical climate. 

Possession of burglary tools is a separate criminal offense that is often associated with burglary charges in South Florida. A Miami criminal defense attorney may be able to help you separate your charges to challenge each one individually in an attempt to avoid compounded charges. 

Contacting a Miami Criminal Defense Attorney 

You have the right to a Miami criminal defense attorney during the proceedings following your arrest in Florida. If you are facing criminal charges in South Florida, your legal team is your best defense. Contact the Miami criminal defense attorney team at Falk & Ross to discuss your case – 1-877-663-5110.