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When you hear the word burglary the first image that typically comes to mind is a masked thief tiptoeing around a house looking for jewelry or other valuables. In reality, burglary has a very broad definition and includes numerous criminal acts. There are three degrees of burglary in Florida, and all are classified as felonies. Anyone who is charged with or is under investigation for burglary should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Burglary investigations can take time to complete, and suspects who unrepresented are easy targets for police. These suspects routinely incriminate themselves without intending to do so, and can unintentionally help law enforcement solves cases. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida burglary lawyer who has successfully represented hundreds of clients in the courthouses across the Tri-County area. He is available to offer a free consultation anytime at (954) 543-0305 and has a flexible appointment schedule at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices. Benjamin is also willing to travel anywhere in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County to meet in person at a convenient location. He is also an experienced Treasure Coast burglary lawyer that handles cases in Martin and St. Lucie County. Do not risk going into to court and taking on the state without a skilled lawyer by your side, as the stakes are too high. Even first offenders and juveniles face incarceration upon being convicted for burglary in Florida.
The general definition of burglary under Florida law is entering a structure, conveyance or dwelling with the intent to commit an offense inside. Burglary can also occur if a person lawfully enters a structure, conveyance or dwelling, but stays longer than permitted in order to commit an offense. Under the law a structure is any building with a roof overhead that is designed to provide shelter for people, and a conveyance is any vehicle such as a car, bus or boat. A dwelling is any home including a house, apartment, condo or trailer home. Contrary to popular belief, a person does not actually have to break into a place in order to be charged with burglary. Simply entering or overstaying your welcome with the intent to commit a crime is all the state must prove. A simple general rule is that trespass plus intent to commit additional criminal offense equals a burglary.
First-degree burglary is the most serious type of burglary, and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison under Florida law. There has been a lot of push back from defense lawyers over the years to decrease the maximum penalty, but the law has not changed. Unfortunately, prosecutors often use the life penalty as nothing more that leverage to force a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Benjamin will not stand for this rampant overcharging, and fights tooth and nail to have all charges dropped or reduced on his client’s own terms. First-degree burglary can occur under several different circumstances including burglary with battery. Burg. batt. as it is commonly known, is one of the most overcharged crimes in all of Florida. This charge can take a simple fight and elevate it from a misdemeanor to a life felony, and the defendant may face an uphill battle even posting bond. Other scenarios where first-degree burglary can be charged is if the defendant is armed or becomes armed during the course of a crime. Stealing a firearm or any other dangerous weapons can elevate a burglary into a life felony even if the defendant had no intention of using the weapon. Armed burglary is another overcharged crime that must be taken seriously, and handled with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The other two first-degree burglary scenarios are using a vehicle (other than a getaway car) to assist in the crime, or causing damage in excess of $1,000 during the course of the crime. These scenarios usually occur when the defendants use force or explosives to break walls or doors in order to gain entry to the structure, conveyance or dwelling.
Second-degree burglary is perhaps the most common type of burglary, and occurs when a defendant enters an occupied or unoccupied dwelling but is not armed and does not assault anyone or commit a battery. Entering an occupied structure or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime or entering a place to steal controlled substances is also considered a second-degree burglary. Second-degree burglary carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. All other criminal offenses involving unauthorized entry of an unoccupied home, building or vehicle are considered third-degree-burglary, which carries a five-year maximum penalty. If you or a loved one has been charged with any type of burglary contact South Florida criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst and find out what defenses may be applicable in your case. Benjamin specializes in defending burglary charges in all South Florida jurisdictions including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, and is available 7 days a week for a free consultation.