Tampa Burglary Attorney

Understanding the Burglary Laws in Florida

Florida's burglary statute is extremely convoluted and should be reviewed thoroughly before making any determination about how someone is likely to be charged. This section is a mere overview of the burglary statute and does not cover all of the possible charging options available to a prosecutor. Burglary occurs when a person enters a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit a crime therein.

The level of the burglary is determined by the circumstances involved in the crime:

  • Entering an unoccupied structure like a business or an unoccupied conveyance such as a car, ship, vessel, trailer, or aircraft with the intent to commit a crime therein is a third degree burglary punishable by up to five years in prison. This is the only level of burglary that does not automatically score state prison on the state sentencing guidelines. If the person has no prior record a diversion program may be available. Probation is also a viable option on these cases.
  • Entering an occupied structure, an occupied conveyance, or a dwelling (whether or not occupied) is second degree burglary and is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Prison is always the recommended sentence on the state sentencing guidelines for Second degree burglary. A dwelling is a house, apartment, trailer or other structure that is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night. A dwelling also includes the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding it.

First degree burglary occurs when a person enters a dwelling, conveyance, or structure and:

  1. commits an assault or battery on any person;
  2. is armed or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon;
  3. uses a motor vehicle in the commission of the burglary to damage a dwelling or structure (occupied or unoccupied) in excess of $1000. First degree burglary is punishable by up to life in prison.

The most common First degree burglary occurs when a person reaches into a car and punches one of the occupants.

Other Crimes Covered by Florida's Burglary Statute

  • Possession of burglary tools. Third degree felony
  • Impairing or impeding telephone or power to a dwelling to facilitate a burglary. Third degree felony
  • Trespassing
  • Trespassing on School grounds
  • Voyeurism: Secretly observing another person with lewd, lascivious, or indecent intent who is in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance and such location provides a reasonable expectation of privacy. This is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
  • Video voyeurism. A person commits the offense of video voyeurism if that person for his or her own amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, or profit, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing another person, intentionally uses or installs an imaging device to secretly view, broadcast, or record a person, without that person's knowledge and consent, who is dressing, undressing, or privately exposing the body, at a place and time when that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Video voyeurism is a first degree misdemeanor for the first offense. There are other sections of this statute that are a felony if violated. These sections involve children as victims.

Fighting Burglary Charges in Tampa

The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger has extensive experience defending all levels of theft charges. Because Attorney Hessinger has the unique experience of serving as a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office for 15 years and as a criminal lawyer in Tampa, our team has the ability to thoroughly analyze a case and develop the best plan to defend the charges. Our first line of defense is to provide mitigating evidence, or by telling the other side of story, to the State Attorney that is making the filing decision on the case. Often, the prosecutor can be influenced to file less serious charges, or to file a "no information," by having this additional information.

Some burglary charges (third degree felonies) can be resolved by completing a diversion program. Diversion programs are only available if the person accused has a very limited criminal history. Charges are dismissed after completing a diversion program. Other more serious burglary charges require a complete case evaluation to determine what options and defenses are available. Most cases can be effectively defended as reasonable alternatives are usually available. Our first priority is to avoid the lengthy prison sentences that the prosecutor often pursues on burglary charges. Our second priority is to avoid felony convictions that can impact a person's life forever.

Fighting burglary charges requires a strong legal defense. Contact a Tampa burglary attorney with the background and experience necessary to assist you to the fullest extent. Call The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger at (813) 501-2688.

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