BURGLARY, BURGLARY OF A CONVEYANCE
Burglary offenses in Florida appear in chapter 810 of the Florida statutes. Florida criminal statues define burglary and trespass; and encompass all the related and included offenses.
The first Florida criminal statute I suggest you look at, if you're interested in learning more about the burglary statutes in Florida; is the Florida jury instructions. They can be found online at the Florida Supreme Court website and also are available online from the Florida bar. In the jury instructions burglary is defined for the purposes of advising a jury in their deliberations. Jury instructions are a good place to begin your study of burglary in Florida. The jury instructions are designed and intended for Florida jurors to obtain a quick and correct understanding of Florida criminal law.
FLORIDA JURY INSTRUCTIONS 13.1
To prove the crime of burglary, the prosecutor must prove three basic elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The first element is that the defendant entered a structure or a conveyance which was owned by or possessed lawfully by another person. A person can be an individual or a corporation or any legal entity which can own property. That includes State of Florida.
The next element of a burglary in Florida is the wrongful entering. An invited guest, such as a shopper, or a person invited into your home or party or social event is not a wrongful party. However if at any time that person is advised that they are no longer welcome then the wrongfulness of entry can be established.
One of the most critical elements of proving the charge of burglary in Florida is that at the time of the entering, the person had the fully formed intent to commit an offense. The key element of a burglary in Florida is the entering of the property with the intent to commit a crime inside.
FLORIDA BURGLARY STATUTE
The burglary statute in Florida covers not only wrongful entries into real property, such as a building or home, but also a conveyance: a conveyance in Florida can be an automobile, truck, bus, or anything that moves on the highways.
If you are accused of burglary of a conveyance the state must prove that you wrongfully entered the conveyance with the fully formed intent to commit a crime. It is a burglary of a conveyance if you reach through a window of an automobile and hit someone.
In Florida it is quite common for fights to spill over or enter into automobiles. It is most common in Florida for an accused to be sentenced to up to 30 years in the Florida penitentiary because they struck someone through an open window of an automobile. In that case the crime in Florida is burglary of conveyance with a battery.
EXAMPLES OF BURGLARY CRIMES IN FLORIDA
By way of example: if you walk past an automobile in the parking lot and see a woman's purse inside it is not abandoned property, it is in the possession of the owner. If you reach inside the car, either through an open window or an unlocked door, you've committed the crime of burglary of a conveyance.
Definitions of terms are an important part of understanding the burglary statute in Florida and Florida statute 810 begins with a definition of the following: structure, dwelling, conveyance.
In Florida, as defined in the burglary statute, a structure is a building of any kind, it can be permanent or temporary structure, which has a roof over it and includes the land it sits upon.
BURGLARY OF A DWELLING IN FLORIDA
The burglary statute in Florida defines burglary as a crime in which a person enters a dwelling or a building. It is a burglary to enter both a conveyance and a part of a dwelling any kind, including the attached porch even if it's a temporary; that is a nonpermanent structure. It can include mobile homes which have a roof over it and are designed to be occupied by people at night, it always includes the land and property the dwelling sits on.
The burglary statute in Florida defines a conveyance as any motor vehicle, vessel, railroad car or ships, trailer, aircraft or sleeping car. To enter a conveyance includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance. In Florida the burglary statute treats as an equally criminally liable offense entering a home or an automobile.
If you enter an automobile with the purpose of stealing something inside you committed burglary of a conveyance: a first-degree felony.
UNDERSTANDING BURGLARY CRIMES IN FLORIDA
To have a complete understanding the term burglary in Florida law it is important to be clear that burglary requires both an entering and remaining in a structure or conveyance and the fully formed intent to commit a crime therein. Burglary in Florida is primarily a crime which involves invading the possessory rights of another person and committing a theft or other crime while doing it. A burglary in Florida involves both an entering and remaining with intent to commit an offense.
The burglary statute in Florida, for punishment purposes, makes a distinction between an occupied dwelling and an unoccupied building. In Florida sentencing is enhanced if the burglary is committed in an occupied dwelling, it is further enhanced if the dwelling is occupied at night.
BURGLARY OF AN UNOCCUPIED BUILDING IN FLORIDA
Burglary of a warehouse, an unoccupied building, is treated differently in Florida statutes than the burglary of a home.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ENTER OR REMAIN?
For you to be convicted of burglary in Florida the state must prove an unauthorized entering or remaining in a structure or conveyance. To fully meet the law's requirement of this element it is sufficient if any part of you, or an object held by you, designed to carry out the crime, is used. So for example if you reach into the open window of a home hoping to pick up some jury on the windowsill you committed a completed burglary. Look to the elements; a trespass, which is entering through the window with your arm, with the intent to steal jewelry. That satisfies the fully formed intent to commit a crime.
In Florida burglary can be a first-degree felony: which means it carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in the Florida prison system. Burglary is a first-degree felony, that is a 30 year to life felony if in the course of the offense a defendant makes an assault or battery on anyone in the dwelling. It is a life offense if one is armed in the course of committing a burglary.
In Florida if you enter a home wrongfully and steal a gun you can be convicted of a life felony, even if you never intended to use the gun, never displayed the gun, and never it involve the gun in the commission of the burglary. In Florida stealing a gun inside a home becomes a life sentence.
In Florida the crime of burglary includes several lesser included offenses. By way of example, a trespass is a lesser included offense to the charge of burglary. Trespass is the wrongful entering upon the property of another.
UNDERSTANDING A TRESPASS IN FLORIDA VS A BURGLARY
This illustration, by way of story, will help you to understand the difference between committing a burglary in Florida and a simple trespass.
If I walk across your front yard only with the intent of saving a few steps, I've committed a trespass. Not a burglary.
If I walk across your front yard and then decide to see steal your bicycle; I have committed a trespass plus a theft, not a burglary. Why? Because in this illustration I didn't form the intent to steal your bicycle until after I entered your yard. Remember: in Florida to be convicted of burglary you must have the fully formed intent to commit a crime before you commit a trespass.
If I see your bicycle before I enter your yard, and then enter your yard with the intent of stealing your bicycle: the crime of burglary in Florida has been committed.
In Florida armed burglary is a first-degree felony. Armed burglary means that in the course of committing the burglary the offender either commits an assault, which is putting someone in fear of an unlawful touching, or a battery. In Florida a battery is an unlawful touching. If in the course of committing a burglary a person arms himself, or becomes armed within the structure or conveyance, the charge becomes a life felony.
In Florida statutory term "in the course of committing" covers both the entering and entry, anything that happens during the course of, or in the flight after the attempt or the actual commission of the burglary. Understanding armed burglary in Florida includes a clear understanding that any crime in Florida has a beginning and an end: which means escaping after the crime is part of the crime. So, if after committing a burglary and fleeing a person arms themselves, they now become subject to a life felony. For example, if after leaving a burglary in a vehicle a defendant has a rifle or firearm in the car, they can be convicted of armed burglary in Florida.
BURGLARY IN FLORIDA PRIOR TO JULY 1, 2001
Prior to July 1, 2001 the crime of burglary meant the entering or remaining in the dwelling, or a structure, or a conveyance, with the fully formed intent to commit a crime, or an offense therein. The statute further went on to say unless the premises were open to the public or of the person, defendant, was licensed or invited to enter. All this changed after July 1, 2001.
In Florida, after July 1, 2001 the legislature increased and broadened the scope of the burglary statute. It is now easier for a prosecutor in Florida to obtain a conviction for burglary under the new expanded definition of burglary.
Because this amended statute is both complicated and complex, it is best to consult with a South Florida criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal attorney in Florida can explain to you both the meaning of the Florida criminal statute as well as the cases which define and clarify the statute.
ELEMENTS OF THE OFFENSE OF BURGLARY IN FLORIDA
The basic element of a Florida burglary conviction requires the prosecutor to present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the entering into the dwelling or conveyance was wrongful and committed with the intent of committing an additional crime once inside.
If a defendant enters a dwelling or conveyance without the intent of committing another crime in inside, then it is not a burglary.
Burglary of a dwelling can be proven in two ways. First by entering a dwelling without the permission of the owner or with intent to commit a crime inside, or secondly, by remaining in a dwelling surreptitiously, which means by stealth or hiding, after a consensual entry.
Statutes do not make it a burglary to enter a store intending to steal. That crime is theft. But, if after lawfully entering the store you conceal you, and then remain in the store to commit a theft, it becomes a burglary.
In armed burglary can be committed with an unloaded firearm. In Florida the criminal statute does not distinguish between a firearm that is loaded, unloaded and in some cases not working. In Florida a criminal defendant can be convicted of committing an armed burglary even though there was no direct evidence that he stole the gun in the course of the burglar. If there is a codefendant who committed the armed offense, anyone participating in the crime even though unarmed can be convicted of armed burglary in Florida.
Whether the gun is loaded or unloaded is not material. It is still in armed burglary in Florida.
If you are armed with a deadly weapon, not a firearm it is a first-degree felony in Florida, which has a maximum 30 year sentence.
A STRUCTURE VERSUS A DWELLING
To be convicted of burglary of a dwelling in Florida the jury must make a specific finding that the burglary was committed in the dwelling. Not just a structure.
If the jury does not make a finding that the structure was a dwelling, an occupied in the jury cannot convict you of burglary of an occupied dwelling. In that situation the lesser included offense of burglary of a dwelling can be found. A conviction for burglary of an unoccupied structure in Florida carries a 15 year Maxim sentence. In Florida a conviction for burglary of a dwelling carries a 30 year sentence with a possible life sentence if in the course of the burglary you become armed.