Have you ever wondered about the difference between robbery and burglary? What makes someone a robber and someone else a burglar?
In a nutshell, the difference is that robbery is defined as taking property from another person using force or the threat of force. Pretty easy to grasp, right?
Burglary, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. Most of us probably associate burglary with theft, but that is not the only illegal act that qualifies. In fact, two things make a burglary a burglary: unlawful entry and the intention to commit a crime.
A person who enters a dwelling, structure, or conveyance for the purpose of committing a crime is a burglar—even if they don’t steal a thing. Most any intentional crime that follows an unlawful entry—from vandalism to murder—can be classified as a burglary.
In Florida, burglary is a felony. You can be charged with third-, second-, or first-degree burglary depending on the specific circumstances of the crime. The penalties are steep:
- Third-degree burglary carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Second-degree burglary carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-degree burglary has a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Given these consequences, a high-quality defense is an absolute must for a person charged with burglary.
Detailing the Possible Defenses for a Florida Burglary Charge
What sorts of arguments might be made in court as a defense against a burglary charge? There are a number of options. They include:
- No criminal intent. Remember what we said about the two key characteristics of a burglary? One of them is the intent to commit a criminal act. If the defendant was on the property in question but had no intention to do anything criminal, burglary is not the correct charge.
- Owner’s permission or invitation. If a person has a property owner’s permission to enter and/or remain or has been invited to do either or both, they have not committed burglary. It is also possible that a person mistakenly understood themselves to have permission or an invitation. In these cases, that misunderstanding may be important to the defense.
- The space is open to the public. Here is the second of those key characteristics: a burglary requires unlawful entry, which is not possible during a period when a property is open to the public.
- Mistaken identity and/or alibi. If a witness makes an incorrect or questionable identification or if a surveillance video is unclear as to an alleged perpetrator’s identity, that fact can be used to bolster a defense against a charge of burglary. And, of course, if it can be shown that a person was not present in the place where the crime took place when it happened—that is, if they have a reliable alibi—that is a quite strong defense indeed.
As you can see, there are many different paths to consider when developing your defense against a burglary charge. Your best option for determining the right course of action is hiring a defense attorney as quickly as possible.
Your Attorney Will Listen, Investigate, and Determine the Best Defense for Your Burglary Charge
A defense attorney is your advocate and will be eager to identify the best possible defense for you if you have been charged with burglary. Your lawyer will listen to you, review all available evidence, and then choose the defense option that is likely to be most effective for your specific case. Having an attorney by your side from the moment you are charged with a crime gives you the best chance of mounting a successful defense.
Contact Our Florida Defense Attorneys at Flaherty & Merrifield Today
Armed with experience, expertise, and enthusiasm for protecting your rights, the lawyers of Flaherty & Merrifield are ready to defend you against a burglary charge. Contact us right away to request a free, discreet, no-obligation consultation.