Burglary: Structures and Conveyances

March 3, 2015

The crime of burglary in the state of Florida means entering or remaining on another’s premises with the purpose of committing a crime inside, even if the crime was not committed. Florida law identifies two ways to commit a burglary:

  • Unlawfully entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense inside, or
  • Lawfully entering but then remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance:
    • Surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense inside,
    • After permission to be inside has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense inside, or
    • Intending to commit a forcible felony (such as kidnapping, aggravated assault, murder, etc.).

There are three types of burglary in Florida, depending on what type of premises the burglary was committed on. The three types are: burglary of a dwelling, burglary of a structure, and burglary of a conveyance. The penalties for burglary vary for the different types of burglary.

Burglary of a Structure

Florida law defines a structure as a building, whether temporary or permanent, that has a roof over it, and includes the land surrounding that building. The penalties for burglary of a structure depend upon whether the structure is occupied or unoccupied.

Burglary of an unoccupied structure is a third degree felony. Third degree felonies are punishable by any combination of:

  • Imprisonment of up to five years,
  • Probation of up to five years, and
  • A fine of up to $5,000.

However, burglary of an occupied structure, a more severe crime, is a second degree felony, punishable by any combination of the following:

  • Imprisonment of up to fifteen years,
  • Probation of up to fifteen years, and
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

Burglary of a Conveyance

In Florida, a conveyance means a motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car. To enter a conveyance for the purposes of the burglary statute includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance. Burglary of a conveyance is a third degree felony in Florida. It is punishable by any combination of the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment of up to five years,
  • Probation of up to five years, and
  • A fine of up to $5,000.

Defenses to Burglary

In Florida, there are several defenses to the crime of burglary. The defense of consent argues that the resident of a dwelling or structure gave the accused permission to enter. A defendant can also argue the lack of intent to commit a crime by showing that he or she entered the dwelling, structure, or conveyance for a non-illegal purpose.

Another defense, similar to consent, is that the premises were open to the public. Florida’s burglary statute specifies that burglary requires entering or remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance that was not open to the public. If a person enters a place that is open to the public, even if he or she has the intent to commit a crime, it cannot be burglary, though conviction for another offense, such as theft, is possible. However, this protection does not include those parts of the premises that are not open to the public, such as an “employees only” area.

Burglary is a serious crime in Florida, and if you have been arrested for or charged with burglary, the advice of an attorney is important to ensure that you receive the maximum protection of the law. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.