West Palm Beach Burglary Lawyer
One of the most common felony charges in Florida is burglary. Once referred to as “breaking and entering,” burglary is a more common–and more serious–crime than most people realize. Indeed, it is possible to be tried and convicted of burglary without physically harming anyone or stealing their property.
Given the potentially devastating consequences of a felony conviction, it is important to take a burglary arrest seriously. An experienced West Palm Beach burglary lawyer can advise you in dealing with these charges. At the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., we represent many clients who have been charged with burglary and related crimes such as theft.
Burglary Is Not the Same Thing as Theft
Under Florida law, burglary refers to one of two scenarios:
- A person enters a “dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance” with the intent to commit some other crime.
- A person enters a property lawfully–i.e., at the owner’s invitation–but remains there “surreptitiously” or after permission has been withdrawn, again with the intent to commit some other crime.
Burglary is therefore not the same thing as theft. Put simply, if a person breaks into a person’s house intending to commit theft, that is robbery, even if the theft is never carried out. But a person may also commit burglary if they enter someone’s property with the intent to carry out any other crime, such as sexual assault or kidnapping. And even if a person lawfully enters a public place, such as a store, if they conceal themselves on the premises in order to commit some later crime, that can also be charged as burglary.
Burglary is a first-, second-, or third-degree felony depending on the circumstances. At the low end of the spectrum, an unarmed burglary of a building or vehicle where nobody else is present constitutes a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. If the burglary involves an occupied building or vehicle, it is a second-degree felony punishable by no more than 15 years in prison. An armed burglary, or a burglary that results in an assault or battery, is a first-degree felony, which can lead to a life term in prison.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
While burglary is always a felony charge in Florida, it may be possible to negotiate a plea to a misdemeanor charge like trespassing based on the facts of a case. Criminal trespass is simply the act of entering or remaining on private property without the owner’s permission. Unlike burglary, there is no requirement to prove the defendant intended to commit some other crime. If the trespasser is unarmed, it is generally considered a misdemeanor, which carries far less serious sanctions than felony burglary.
An experienced West Palm Beach burglary lawyer can review the facts of your case and advise you on whether it may be possible to negotiate a lesser charge. So if you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., today.