Theft & Property Criminal Defense in Palm Beach, Florida
Florida Statute 810.02
In Florida, burglary is committed by either illegally entering a "conveyance", dwelling, or structure, with the intent to commit a criminal act inside, or legally entering a "conveyance", dwelling, structure to commit a crime inside, or when the offender has been asked to leave, or intends to commit a crime there or with the intent to commit a forcible felony.
Under Florida Statute 810.02, a conveyance is considered to be a motor vehicle, such as a car, SUV, or truck. These vehicles are referred to as conveyances, because they are vehicles that convey people and their cargo from one location to another.
Even if an alarm is triggered or law enforcement is alerted and the person in the commission of a crime departs and nothing was stolen, one can still be charged with burglary, because they intended to commit the crime, even if unsuccessful.
Attorney Mark Solomon
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Penalties for Burglary in Florida
When convicted of burglary, sentences are imposed by the presiding judge. The punishments for burglary depends upon the specific burglary charge that has been applied. Below, is a brief description of first, second, and third-degree burglary and possible sentences a judge can impose on any party found guilty of committing them.
- Third-Degree Burglary. Third-degree felonies, particularly burglary of a conveyance, are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and 5 years in prison. A burglary of an unoccupied structure conviction in Florida carries a maximum 15-year sentence.
- Second-Degree Burglary. During a burglary, if an offender doesn't commit assault or battery, and isn't armed with a dangerous weapon or explosive, and if the offender enters or doesn't leave when asked, this is second-degree burglary. Home invasion, burglary is also a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000, as is burglary of an occupied vehicle or building, an emergency vehicle, or burglary to commit theft of a controlled substance.
- First-Degree Burglary. In Florida, armed burglary is a first-degree felony when during a burglary, the offender either commits an assault, or battery, or if the burglar becomes armed with a deadly weapon during the burglary. If this weapon is a firearm, whether it's loaded or unloaded is irrelevant. A first-degree felony Burglary can carry up to a 30-year prison sentence. If a gun is stolen during a burglary, home invasion, the burglar can be convicted of a felony and receive a life sentence, even if there's no intent to use the gun or the gun is not shown during the burglary.
When burglary is committed in a person's home, whether their home is a building or vehicle, such as an RV, whether occupied or unoccupied, it's considered to be a home invasion burglary, a first-degree felony, which carries a harsher sentence in Florida. Armed and violent burglaries can be punishable by a life sentence, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Possible Burglary Defenses in Florida
When an offender is arrested and charged with burglary, it's vital to employ the services of a defense attorney to construct a solid defense against the charges that have been lodged against you. Proving burglary was not committed basically rests on proving an intent to commit burglary and whether the defendant was legally present in a dwelling.
Consent is an employable defense to burglary. The defendant must show evidence that they had legal consent to enter and remain in the dwelling in question. Once this evidence is established, the prosecutor must disprove that consent existed beyond a reasonable doubt. If consent to enter is proven, the defendant cannot be found guilty of burglary.
If an establishment is open to the public, all members of the public have a legal right to enter the establishment. The right to "remain", is implied unless there is proof that an offender was asked to leave. A vital element of burglary is "consent to enter", therefore, one cannot be found guilty of burglary if they had a legal right to enter the establishment, even if they committed a crime inside the establishment. This defense does not apply if a crime is committed in an "employees only" area or any other areas that are not open to the public within a business or establishment. A burglary conviction can result if a crime is committed in such areas.
To be convicted of burglary, the alleged offender must intend to commit a crime within the dwelling. Intent is generally determined by the circumstances under which the crime was allegedly committed, such as if one enters a dwelling uninvited by "sneaking", this proves possible intent. However, if a party proves lawful reasons for entering, such as that they are seeking shelter from the elements, one can't be convicted of burglary, but may be convicted of trespassing, instead, because though they were unauthorized to be in the location, they had no intent to commit a crime within the dwelling.
Dealing in Stolen Property
Florida Statute 812.019
In the State of Florida, dealing in stolen property is defined as:
- Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.
- Any person who initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property shall be guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.
Grand and Petit Theft
Florida Statute 812.014
While there are many different theft crimes under Florida law, the three most common types are Petit Theft, Grand Theft and Retail Theft. Florida Statute 812.014 defines the different types of thefts and the penalties for each.
What is a Theft?
Essentially, a theft is the taking of property, or even the attempt to take property, knowing that it belongs to another person or entity, with the intent to either temporarily, or permanently, deprive that person or entity of their property. The legal definition of theft can be found at Florida Statute 812.014(1)(a)&(b).
What is Petit Theft?
Petit (pronounced petty) theft is the taking of property that is valued at $100 up to $300. The value of the property taken is measured by the fair market value of the item(s) taken at the time of the theft. In some cases, the value of the property may be established by the replacement cost of the item(s). A petit theft is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.
The theft of an item that is valued at less than $100 is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to sixty days in the county jail and a $500 fine.
What is Grand Theft?
Grand thefts are separated into three different categories. Grand Theft (Third Degree) is simply any theft where the item(s) taken is valued between $300 and $20,000. A third degree grand theft is punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Grand Theft (Second Degree) is a theft where the property taken is valued between $20,000 and $100,000. A second degree grand theft is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Grand Theft (First Degree) is theft of property valued at over $100,000, or where cargo valued at $50,000 or more has been stolen, or as otherwise described at Florida Statute 812.014(2)(a)(1-3). A first degree grand theft is punishable by up to 30 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
Just as with petit theft, the value of the property taken in a grand theft is measured by the fair market value of the item(s) taken at the time and place of the theft. In some cases, the value of the property may be established by the replacement cost of the item(s).
For more information on theft as it relates to Florida law, please read Verification of False Ownership in the State of Florida.
Defining Retail Theft
Retail Theft is knowingly, or intentionally, (1) taking merchandise, (2) removing or altering a price tag, (3) placing merchandise into another container, as well as other acts described in Florida Statute 812.015(1)(d), with the intent to deprive the merchant of the possession of an item, or items, or the full retail value of the item or items. A retail theft where the item, or items, are valued at less than $100 is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail and a $500 fine.
A retail theft where the item, or items, are valued between $100 and up to $300 is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Any person who commits either a second petit theft or a second retail theft, and has a prior theft conviction, commits a first degree misdemeanor. Any person who has two or more convictions for petit theft or retail theft can be charged with a third degree felony. In other words, the more theft convictions on your record, the more severe the penalty becomes.
Suspension of Driver License
In addition to the penalties described above, the court can impose a 6 month driver license suspension for a first conviction of petit theft and retail theft. For a second or subsequent petit theft or retail theft, Florida Statute 812.0155(1)(b) permits the court to suspend a driver license for 1 year.
A felony theft conviction carries a 1 year driver license suspension.
Larceny includes a range of misdemeanor and felony property crimes, including:
- Shoplifting and employee theft
- Larceny and felony theft
- Auto theft and "joyriding"
- Bad checks and credit card theft
- Embezzlement and white collar crimes
- Burglary of a home
- Burglary of a business or vehicle
- Criminal trespass or destruction of property
We intervene immediately to assess the facts and circumstances and to make sure that the charges are proportional to the alleged crime. Thefts may be charged as a felony, depending on the value of property stolen or prior offenses. Larceny offenses are escalated if a weapon was involved, or if the dwelling was occupied or if a person was injured.
Our goal is to get the best result for the facts of your situation. If our investigation does not reveal constitutional violations or flaws in the prosecution's case, we will assert mitigating factors and explore opportunities to avoid the worst penalties. For example, first offenders may qualify for deferred judgment that expunges a theft or burglary conviction. Sometimes we can plead the case down to a lesser included offense, such as trespassing, in lieu of a conviction for felony theft, larceny or burglary.
In the State of Florida, robbery is defined as follows:
1. “Robbery” means the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.
- If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
- If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
- If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried no firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
- An act shall be deemed “in the course of committing the robbery” if it occurs in an attempt to commit robbery or in flight after the attempt or commission.
- An act shall be deemed “in the course of the taking” if it occurs either prior to, contemporaneous with, or subsequent to the taking of the property and if it and the act of taking constitute a continuous series of acts or events.