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Burglary Charges in Tampa, FL

If you or a loved one has been arrested for the criminal offense of burglary, 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 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 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.

Burglary under Florida Statute Section 810.12

Under Florida Statutes Section 810.02, "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
  • the area is not open to the public.

Definitions under 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 a airplane, vessel or boat (anything used to transport people from one location to another).

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.

Possession of Recently Stolen Property

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.

The Different Types of Burglary Charges

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

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.

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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.

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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:

  1. the defendant commits an assault or battery upon any person during the commission of the burglary;
  2. is armed or becomes armed with a weapon during the commission of the burglary;
  3. enters an 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.

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

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.

Last updated by on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

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