Vanilla Ice Arrested for Home Burglary in Florida

February 24, 2015

Robert Van Winkle, better known as ‘90s rapper Vanilla Ice, was arrested Wednesday, February 18th, and charged with burglary of a residence and grand theft. Furniture, a pool heater, a bicycle, and other items were taken from a Lantana home; police believe that the burglary took place between December and February. The items were discovered when police searched a home owned by Van Winkle, and returned the items to their owner. He was released after posting a $6,000 bond, and told reporters that it was “all a misunderstanding.”

Burglary

In Florida, burglary involves being in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime inside. There are two ways to commit 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    • After permission to be inside has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense inside, or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.).

Burglary of a Dwelling

Florida’s penalties for burglary differ depending on where the burglary was committed: in a dwelling, in a structure, or in a conveyance. A dwelling is a structure or conveyance of any kind, whether temporary or permanent, that has a roof and is designed to be occupied by people staying there at night, and the property surrounding it.

Penalties

Burglary of a dwelling is classified in Florida as a second degree felony. Second degree felonies are punishable by any combination of:

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

The minimum sentence in the burglary of a dwelling is twenty-one months in prison.

Defenses to Burglary

There are several specific defenses to the crime of burglary. Prosecution is not required to prove lack of consent to enter as an element of burglary, but consent is available as a defense. Once evidence to establish consent has been offered by the defendant, the burden is on the prosecution to prove lack of consent beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense of consent is usually used when one resident of a dwelling gave permission to enter without the knowledge of the other residents.

Another defense is the lack of intent to commit a crime. Proving the defendant’s intent to commit a crime inside the dwelling is an element of the crime of burglary that must be proven by the prosecution. However, intent is often proven by showing that the defendant entered the dwelling stealthily. Thus, if the defendant can show that he or she entered the dwelling for a non-illegal purpose, such as seeking shelter in a storm, a burglary conviction can be avoided. However, the defendant may still be convicted for the lesser included offense of trespass.

If you have been arrested for or charged with burglary, an experienced criminal defense attorney is an invaluable aid to navigate the legal system and help you prepare the best defense possible. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.