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What is burglary?

Tampa criminal attorneys are often specifically asked about what exactly constitutes burglary.  Frankly, it is one of the most improperly used words by television criminal justice shows.  Burglary is a relatively simple charge, it is covered by Florida Statute Section 810.02.  Burglary is essentially either the unlawful entry into a residence or lawfully entering and unlawful remaining in a residence to commit a felony.

First and foremost, Tampa criminal attorneys essentially see three different types of burglary – burglary of a dwelling, burglary of a structure and burglary of a conveyance.  “Dwelling” is defined by Florida law as “building [or conveyance] of any kind, whether such building [or conveyance] is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding it.  For purposes of burglary, a “dwelling” includes an attached porch or attached garage.”  Florida law defines “structure” as “any building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, that has a roof over it, and the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding that structure.”  “Conveyance” is defined as “any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad car, trailer, aircraft or sleeping car; and to enter a conveyance includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance.”  These definitions can be found within Florida Statute §810.011.  It is also worth noting that Florida law permits simply sticking an arm into a dwelling, structure or conveyance to satisfy the requirements of burglary, this most often occurs when individuals steal something out of a car, like a purse, wallet or cellphone.  Many Tampa criminal attorneys see this charged in situations where people break into a car by reaching through and simply grabbing something.

Secondly, the penalties of burglary vary depending on the specific scenario.  For example, burglary of dwelling is a second degree felony with a maximum of fifteen (15) years in prison.  It is assigned a Level 7 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment, so if found guilty a judge is required to sentence the individual to a minimum of 21 months in prison, regardless if they have never been arrested before.   This is obviously very concerning and alarming since someone can be forced to go to prison with no prior arrests and/or convictions.  Tampa criminal attorneys are forced to find aggressive, creative solutions, when this situation arises to avoid prison sentences for their clients.

If you or someone you know is facing a burglary charge, contact the Tampa criminal attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.    We have handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the Tampa Bay Area.  If you would like to contact one of our Tampa criminal attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website.  We appreciate you taking the time to check out our Tampa criminal attorney blog.