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Burglary Attorney Josh LeRoy discusses:

Burglary & Related Charges

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An experienced West Palm Beach Burglary Attorney can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your final sentence – potentially years of your life. A few of the most common related charges that fall in the Burglary category are detailed below.

What should I know about Burglary (F.S. 810.02(1)(a)) before hiring a West Palm Beach Burglary Attorney?

Florida law defines burglary as a “means entering or remaining in…a structure 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…”

In more simple terms, Burglary, commonly referred to as “breaking and entering,” occurs when a person enters the property of another with the intent to commit a crime therein. The law does not require the State to prove a crime was committed within the property, but rather, only that the person, at the time of the entry, had the intent to do so. So, if a person enters someone’s house intending to steal a television, but for whatever reason, he does not go through with the theft, he has still, according to the law, committed the crime of burglary.

Burglary, F.S. 810.02(1)(A)
Burglary, F.S. 810.02(1)(A)

Are there different Types of Burglary?

Florida law differentiates between three types of burglary according to the nature of the property entered:

  • “burglary of a dwelling” prohibits unlawful entry a home or the fenced yard surrounding a home.
  • In contrast, “burglary of a structure” prohibits unlawful entry in any building not used as a home, or the fenced yard surrounding such a building.
  • Finally, “burglary of a conveyance” prohibits unauthorized entry into a vehicle.

What are the penalties for burglary in Palm Beach County?

  • The law classifies Burglary of a Dwelling, regardless of whether the home is occupied at the time of the offense, as a second-degree felony, punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation up to 15 years in state prison.
  • Burglary of structure and burglary of a conveyance, if the property is unoccupied, are both third degree felonies, punishable by penalties ranging from probation up to 5 years in state prison. If, however, the structure or conveyance is occupied at the time of the entry, the law classifies both forms of burglary as second-degree felonies, with a consequent maximum penalty of 15 years.
  • If the State proves the accused either (a) committed an assault or battery on a person occupying the property, or (b) carried, used, or became armed with a dangerous weapon, or (c) caused over one-thousand dollars in damage, the law classifies the offense as a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.

How would a good West Palm Beach burglary attorney prevent the State from proving a defendant’s intent?

When trying to prove a defendant’s intent in a burglary case, a seasoned burglary attorney can present the State with a difficult challenge. Because intent concerns a person’s state of mind, something that cannot be seen, the State must try to prove criminal intent by the circumstances.

For example, the broken back window of a home, the disappearance of valuables, and the discovery of the missing goods in the defendant’s home might serve as such circumstantial evidence that the accused committed the crime.

But the same circumstances, at least as described here, are equally consistent with events that do not constitute burglary: the accused having unknowingly, or even knowingly, purchased the stolen goods from someone else, or alternatively, having received them as a gift. In those cases, in which the State finds it too difficult to prove the defendant’s intent to commit a crime, the State may reduce the charge to misdemeanor trespassing as a way of resolving the case.

Do I have a good chance of winning the case if I give permission to be on property? Absolutely; consent is a complete defense to burglary charges. However, keep in mind that the owner of a property can, by asking a formerly invited person to leave the house or building, withdraw his or her consent.

If the door was open, and there was no actually “breaking,” just an entry, is a person still subject to prosecution for burglary? In a burglary prosecution, whether the door was locked or unlocked, whether an actual breaking took place or not, are matters of no moment. If a person enters the property of another without consent, and possesses an intent to commit a crime therein, the State can prosecute him for burglary.

Can a Burglary Attorney help me with a Burglary of A Structure charge (F.S. 810.02(3)(c))?

As described by Florida Statutes, Burglary of A Structure means “entering or remaining in…a structure 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…”

Florida law defines a “structure” as a “a building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, which has a roof over it, together with the curtilage thereof.”

So, in other words, Burglary of A Structure is burglary of any building that is not a home. Most commonly, burglary of a structure charges relates to places where business is transacted such as restaurants, offices, and gas stations.

Burglary Of A Structure, F.S. 810.02(3)(C)
Burglary Of A Structure, F.S. 810.02(3)(C)

What are the penalties for Burglary of a Structure?

  • Burglary of a structure that is not occupied, a third-degree felony, is punishable by penalties ranging from probation up to 5 years in state prison.
  • Burglary of an occupied structure, a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • Burglary of a structure in which the offender commits an assault or battery, or carries a dangerous weapon, is a life felony, punishable by up to life imprisonment. Whether the gun was loaded, used, or displayed is irrelevant.

I didn’t take anything; is that still a burglary?

Florida law defines burglary in terms of two primary elements: (1) an entry without consent onto the property of another, and (2) the simultaneous intent to commit a crime therein. Whether or not an alleged offender ultimately took anything from the property is irrelevant.

What is the difference between burglary and theft?

Whereas burglary is defined in terms of entry without consent onto the property of another, such as a store that is closed, theft occurs in a place where a person’s entry is not prohibited, such as a store that is open for business.

How can a West Palm Beach Burglary Attorney help me with a Burglary of a Dwelling charge (F.S. 810.02)?

Commonly referred to as breaking and entering, Burglary of a Dwelling is a very common crime. Florida has the third highest burglary rate in the nation, likely because Florida has some a broad definition of the crime. The crime is actually entering the property of another with the intent to commit a crime inside.

Technically speaking, burglary does not require proof that a crime even occurred inside the property of another, but rather only that when the property was entered the person had the necessary intent. For instance, if a person enters into a neighbor’s house intending to steal the television, it is not necessary to prove that the television was actually stolen to prove the crime. Proof of the burglary in that example hinges on the intent of the person charged.

Burglary Of A Dwelling – F.S. 810.02
Burglary Of A Dwelling – F.S. 810.02

Of all the states in the country, Florida punishes a burglary among the harshest. Burglary charges range from third degree felonies to first degree felonies punishable by life. Needless to say a conviction for a burglary can involve prison time and significant fines.

A burglary is a third degree felony if it involves the entering of a structure or conveyance. Third degree felonies can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. However, entering into a home, a place where people live, regardless of whether anyone is actually home at the time, is a felony of the second degree.

The punishment for burglary of a home is up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. Anyone, even a first offender, charged with a burglary of a dwelling scores prison in Florida.

If a weapon, an assault, or a battery is involved in the burglary the possible punishments only get more severe.

How does a burglary attorney prove a person’s intent?

Understanding that it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to prove a person’s intent is critical to defending a burglary case. The State is often lacking essential evidence to actually prove the charge, which is evidence of intent. The State tries to fill that evidence void with circumstantial evidence most of the time. A seasoned burglary attorney knows how to exploit that void – which often results in very favorable results for their client. Burglary charges can often be reduced to lessor charges, including trespassing, a misdemeanor.

What is Possession of Burglary Tools: F.S. 810.06?

According to Florida law, a crime occurs when a person “has in his or her possession any tool, machine, or implement with intent to use the same, or allow the same to be used, to commit any burglary or trespass…”

Possession Of Burglary Tools, F.S. 810.06
Possession Of Burglary Tools, F.S. 810.06

The charge is pretty clear: Possessing tools with the intent to use them to commit a burglary or trespass is a crime. However, although clear, the law imposes on the State the often-difficult burden of proving the defendant’s intent. In other words, the mere possession or carrying of tools that could be used for a burglary is perfectly lawful.

To successfully prosecute a person for possession of burglary tools, a good burglary attorney will force the State to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant’s state of mind: that he had the tools because he intended to use them to commit a burglary or trespass. Merely carrying such tools late at night, even in a neighborhood distant from one’s home, is not enough to prove a defendant had the required criminal intent.

What are the penalties for Possession of Burglary Tools?

As a third-degree felony, Possession of Burglary Tools is punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation up to five years in state prison.

What are some defenses a skilled burglary attorney can use for Possession of Burglary Tools?

In every criminal case, the State must obtain its evidence in compliance with the Constitution, and the limits it places on the actions of people who work for the government. If the police stopped the accused without reasonable suspicion, arrested him without probable cause, or questioned him without advising him of his right to remain silent and his right to counsel, the defendant, through his lawyer, may have grounds to move the presiding judge to exclude the illegal evidence from the case. Such motions to suppress evidence often serve as the key to having a case thrown out of court.

Related Cases

BURGLARY OF A DWELLING/HABITATION

  • The Incident: A rash of local burglaries.
  • The Accused: Client’s family hired me to represent him.
  • The Evidence: The State had a weak case. They knew it. Regardless, they decided to press the case against my client. They often do this knowing someone is innocent knowing without proper defense many accused succumb to their fear and accept pleas they shouldn’t.
  • The Charges: Client was charged twice with Burglary of a Dwelling. The State had offered the client prison.
  • My Counsel & Defense: I advised my client to refuse the plea and I filed a Motion to Dismiss that clearly disputed all charges.
  • The VERDICT: Shortly thereafter all attempts to pursue my client were dropped by the State. The final verdict? Nolle Prosse (complete dismissal) of all charges.

related laws:
Burglary

HOME BURGLARY WHILE NEIGHBOR AWAY

This Home Burglary case involved:

  • The Incident: A woman’s home was burglarized while at work.
  • The Accused: He was a Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR). He was facing a mandatory 15 year prison sentence if convicted.
  • The Charges: Burglary of a Dwelling (PRR mandatory 15 year prison sentence) and Grand Theft
  • The Evidence: The police responded to the neighbor’s apartment as the evidence pointed that someone therein committed the crime. After speaking with the client’s nephew, the police obtained a large amount of the victim’s property from inside of the apartment where the client was staying. The client later confessed to the crime.
  • My Counsel & Defense: I drafted and filed a Motion to Suppress, challenging the legality of the police recovery of the evidence from inside the apartment where he was staying.
  • The VERDICT: Plead to Burglary of a Structure and Grand Theft and 24 months in the Palm Beach County Jail. The State agreed to allow the client to plead to lessor charges, and a Palm Beach County jail sentence. My client who had 16 months of jail credit already, needless to say, was very very relieved and gladly accepted the plea.

related laws:
Burglary of a Dwelling (PRR mandatory 15 year prison sentence)
Grand Theft

A LATE NIGHT CAR BURGLARY

This Car Burglary case involved:

  • The Incident: Late night burglarizing of a car.
  • The Accused: He and his friends were stopped by police walking through a neighborhood that he did not live in by police at 3 in the morning. They could not explain their presence in the neighborhood.
  • The Charges: Burglary of a Conveyance
  • The Evidence: My client was found in possession of property stolen from the car around the corner.
  • My Counsel & Defense: He scored significant prison time. I drafted and filed a Motion to Suppress, and the client chose to accept the State’s offer of Time Served instead of waiting for the Motion hearing.
  • The VERDICT: The client chose to accept the State’s offer of Time Served instead of waiting for the Motion hearing. The co-defendant’s counsel adopted the Motion to Suppress I filed, and the Judge subsequently granted the Motion for the co-defendant.

related laws:
Burglary of a Conveyance

If You Have Been Arrested Call West Palm Beach Burglary Attorney Josh LeRoy Because Experience Wins. Can You Afford to Lose?

If you, or someone you know, find yourself in need of a Burglary attorney in Palm Beach County (from Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and up to Jupiter), or any of the surrounding areas use the form below to drop me a note. Let me know a bit about yourself, what’s happened, and a good time to contact you.

-Joshua LeRoy, Esq.

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