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Burglary Charges

According to the 2017 Crime in Florida Report Abstract, Florida had 88,778 UCR burglary offenses reported in 2017. There were 16,463 arrests for burglary reported to the Florida UCR program.

Out of those 16,463 arrests for burglary, 4,059 were juveniles and 12,404 were adults. For 2017, 31,411 residential burglaries occurred during the day, 14,804 residential burglaries occurred at night, and 16,837 residential burglaries occurred at an unknown time.

The penalties for burglary crimes are classified based on the type of property entered, whether any assault or battery occurred and whether the person who entered was armed or unarmed.

The statute of limitations comes into play in many burglary cases, although Section 775.15 now contains a tolling provision for burglary cases where the defendant's identity is discovered through a DNA match.

Under Florida Statutes Section 810.02, the crime of "burglary" is defined as:

  • surreptitiously entering or remaining;
  • in a dwelling, structure or conveyance;
  • with the intention to commit an offense (other than trespass or burglary) inside of the dwelling, structure or conveyance;
  • at a time when the defendant is not licensed or invited to enter or remain; and
  • in an area that is not open to the public.

The fact that the defendant was in possession of recently stolen property, unless satisfactorily explained, can be used as evidence to support a conviction of burglary if the circumstances of the burglary and of the possession of the stolen property convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the burglary.

Attorney for Burglary Charges in Tampa, FL

If you or a loved one has been arrested for the criminal offense of burglary or armed burglary of a dwelling, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm.

Although burglary charges are serious, important defenses exist to fight the charges. We represent both juveniles and adults charged with burglary.

We fight theft crimes aggressively by filing motions to suppress evidence illegally seized by the police or motions to dismiss the charges for insufficient evidence. In some cases, an office might arrest a suspect found in possession of items recently stolen during a burglary.

The officer might accuse the person of committing the burglary even though little evidence exists to support that accusation other than the possession of the recently stolen items.

The first twenty-one (21) days after the arrest are critical because it is during that time period that the prosecutors with the State Attorney's Office decide whether or not to file charges. This article discusses the statutory elements of the crime, the jury instructions, and potential defenses that might apply to your case.

Call us today at 813-250-0500 for a consultation.


Definitions under Florida's Burglary Statute

Under the Florida Burglary statutes, the term "dwelling" is defined as a building that people used as a shelter, lodging or home.

The dwelling includes the porch of the home and any buildings attached to it such as a garage. A dwelling can include a mobile home, RV, or tent.

A "structure" is any building that has a roof and floor and includes the buildings attached to it such as a garage.

A "conveyance" most commonly refers to a car, truck or other motor vehicle, but it can also include an airplane, vessel or boat (anything used to transport people from one location to another).

Charges for armed burglary of a dwelling are the most serious while charges for an unarmed burglary of a conveyance are the least serious.


Standard Jury Instructions for Burglary Charges

The jury instructions for a burglary offense provide that the jury may infer that the defendant had the intent to commit a crime inside the structure or conveyance if he entered in a manner that was stealthily and without the consent of the owner or occupant.

In order to enter, the defendant's entire body does not have to go inside of the structure, dwelling or conveyance, instead it is sufficient if any part of his body goes inside, including a hand.

The intent to commit a crime therein looks at the operations of the defendant's mind which is not always capable of direct and positive proof.

Therefore, the prosecutor is allowed to attempt to establish evidence of intent by the use of circumstantial evidence.


The Different Types of Burglary Charges

· Third Degree Felony
· Second Degree Felony
· First Degree Felony


Burglary - a Third Degree Felony

Burglary to a conveyance or burglary to an unoccupied structure is a third-degree felony which is punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison. This form of burglary is the most common type of burglary crime charged in the State of Florida.

Level 4 - The types of burglaries that are classified as a Level 4 offense for purposes of the criminal punishment code include:

  • 810.02(4)(a) 3rd degree - Burglary, or attempted burglary, of an unoccupied structure; unarmed; no assault or battery;
  • 810.02(4)(b) 3rd degree - Burglary, or attempted burglary, of an unoccupied conveyance; unarmed; no assault or battery;
  • 810.06 3rd degree - Burglary; possession of tools.

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Burglary - a Second Degree Felony

The offense is enhanced to a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in Florida State Prison, if at the time of the commission of the burglary, the dwelling, structure of conveyance is occupied.

Level 6 - The types of burglaries that are classified as a Level 6 offense for purposes of the criminal punishment code include:

  • 810.02(3)(c) 2nd degree - Burglary of an occupied structure; unarmed; no assault or battery.

Level 7 - The types of burglaries that are classified as a Level 7 offense for purposes of the criminal punishment code include:

  • 810.02(3)(a) 2nd degree - Burglary of an occupied dwelling; unarmed; no assault or battery;
  • 810.02(3)(b) 2nd degree - Burglary of an unoccupied dwelling; unarmed; no assault or battery;
  • 810.02(3)(d) 2nd degree - Burglary of an occupied conveyance; unarmed; no assault or battery; and
  • 810.02(3)(e) 2nd degree - Burglary of authorized emergency vehicle.

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Burglary - a First Degree Felony

The offense of burglary is enhanced to a first-degree felony which is punishable by up to thirty (30) years in Florida State Prison if any of the following elements are proven:

  • the defendant entered a dwelling or structure; and
    • uses a motor vehicle to assist in committing the offense; or
    • causes damage to the dwelling or structure or property inside in excess of $1,000.00.

Burglary of a dwelling with an assault or battery is a first-degree felony which is punishable by life in prison. The offense is a level 8 offense which requires a minimum of 74 points on the criminal punishment code scoresheet. 

Level 8 - The types of burglaries that are classified as a Level 8 offense for purposes of the criminal punishment code include:

  • 810.02(2)(c) 1st degree -  Burglary of a dwelling or structure causing structural damage or $1,000 or more property damage.

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Burglary - a First Degree Felony Punishable by Life

In pertinent part, section 810.02(1)(b)(1), Florida Statutes, defines the crime of burglary as “[e]ntering a dwelling ... with the intent to commit an offense therein.” Id. Section 810.02(2) provides, again in pertinent part, that burglary is a first-degree felony punishable by life imprisonment “if, in the course of committing the offense, the offender:

(a) Makes an assault or battery upon any person; or

(b) Is or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, with explosives or a dangerous weapon.”

Level 8 - The types of first degree burglaries that are first degree felonies punishable by life are each classified as a Level 8 offense for purposes of the criminal punishment code including:

  • 810.02(2)(a) 1st degree -  Punishable by Life, Burglary with assault or battery;
  • 810.02(2)(b) 1st degree -  Punishable by Life, Burglary; armed with explosives or dangerous weapon.

Additional Resources

Florida Statute Section 810.02 - Visit the website of the Florida legislature to find the statutory language for Section 810.02, Florida Statute, including the elements of the offense, the different penalties for burglary, and the definitions of terms used in the statutory scheme.

FDLE's Definition of Burglary - Visit the FDLE website to find the Florida Uniform Crime Reports program (UCR) definition of burglary as the "unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft" including the "attempted forcible entry." Keep in mind that a burglary from a conveyance or within the curtilage is counted as Larceny by UCR definition. Find information on Florida burglary statute in Section 810.02 and prohibitions in impairing telephone or power to a dwelling to facilitate a burglary under Section 810.061.


Finding a Lawyer for Burglary Charges in Tampa, FL

If you or a loved one has been arrested for the serious offense of burglary, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case. At the Sammis Law Firm, we understand the serious penalties that accompany a burglary charge.

We represent clients charged with burglary in Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding areas of St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.

Call us today at 813-250-0500 to discuss possible defenses to the charges and ways to fight the charges.


This article was last updated by on Thursday, August 30, 2018.