What is considered Burglary in Clearwater Florida?

The offense of burglary is defined in Section 810.02, Florida Statutes: “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a licensed or invited entry, remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance after permission to remain has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein” This article discusses several aspects of the burglary crime in Clearwater, Florida

Structure, dwelling, and conveyance

According to Section 810.011(1)-(3), a structure is a temporary or permanent building that has a roof. The building’s cartilage also counts as part of the structure. A conveyance is any motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, vessel, ship, or sleeping car.

Section 810.011(2), Florida Statutes defines a dwelling as “building of any kind, whether such building is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a 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.”

Note that for one to be convicted of burglary, full entry is not required; “entry” in this context is when the defendant extends any part of their body to the plaintiff’s dwelling, structure, or conveyance. Further, if the defendant entered the plaintiff property surreptitiously, the jury is allowed to deduce that the entry was made with criminal intent. 

Burglary crime classifications in Florida

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, burglary in Florida can be prosecuted as a felony of the first degree, second degree, or third degree.

First-degree felony

Burglary is classified as a first-degree felony if the defendant does one of the following in the course of committing the crime

  • Assaults or batters a person
  • Is armed with dangerous weapons or explosives within the structure, dwelling, or conveyance
  • Enters a dwelling or structure with a motor vehicle and uses it as a tool to commit the offense rather than just a gateway vehicle and damages property in the process
  • Causes damage exceeding $1,000 to the dwelling or structure and the property within them

The first-degree felony is punishable by up to life imprisonment

Second-degree felony

Burglary is prosecuted as a felony of the second degree if the defendant did not bear any dangerous weapons and did not commit assault or battery in the cause of the burglary. In addition to those requirements, other factors that make burglary a second-degree felony are

  • When the suspect commits burglary in a dwelling, regardless of whether there is another person therein 
  • When the suspect commits burglary in a structure or conveyance while there is another person therein 
  • When the suspect commit burglary in an authorized emergency vehicle

This offense is punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years or probation for 15 years, and a fine of $10, 000.

Third-degree felony

This offense is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and a fine of $5,000. Burglary is considered a third-degree felony where the suspect enters or remain in a structure or conveyance at a time when there is no other person in the property, commits no assault or battery, and does not bear dangerous weapons or explosives.

Possible defenses to burglary charges<

If you are accused of burglary in Clearwater, you should first consult an accomplished criminal attorney before pleading guilty. One such attorney is William Hanlon criminal lawyer in Clearwater. An experienced criminal lawyer knows how to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Some of the defenses to a burglary in Florida are

  • The suspect had permission to enter the dwelling, structure, or conveyance
  • There was an implied invitation to enter the premises
  • The intent of entry was not to commit a crime
  • Failure of the prosecution to sufficiently describe the identity of the suspect