The crime of burglary is another charge that is frequently filed in Florida courts. Any conviction of burglary in Florida is a felony, which means it carries with it the possibility of significant time in prison and sizable fines. This article will describe some of the more common defenses against the charge of burglary in Florida, as well as what you need to know if you find yourself charged with the crime of burglary.
In Florida, burglary is defined as
Entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance
with the intent to commit a crime within
unless the defendant has license or is invited to be in that location or if the location is open to the public at the time.
A dwelling does not have to be occupied at the time of the crime to qualify as such under the statute. Conviction of burglary in Florida is a third-degree felony, but if a deadly weapon was used during the burglary or damage of over $1,000 was incurred as a result of the burglary, prosecutors are likely to charge it as a more serious felony. Penalties for a conviction of burglary in Florida can be a prison sentence for up to life and a fine of up to $10,000.
As with many crimes, defendants often defend against a charge of burglary by claiming actual innocence, or that they did not in fact commit the crime. The prosecution has the burden of proving to a judge or a jury that the crime of burglary was committed by that particular defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, and pleading “not guilty” without any further justification by the defendant simply puts the prosecution to its proof of the crime.
Often a claim of actual innocence includes an alibi by the defendant, which can be proven by testimony from witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the defendant’s whereabouts at the time of the crime.
Also used in a claim of actual innocence is the tactic of challenging the prosecution’s evidence. If the evidence was collected in a way that is not legal (without a warrant, for instance) or the evidence was mishandled after it was legally collected, the defense attorney may move to have that evidence excluded on those grounds. If that evidence is excluded, any evidence that was uncovered due to that evidence is also excluded under the doctrine of “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.
Another common defense to burglary in Florida is that of consent. As one of the elements of the crime of burglary is being in a place where the defendant did not have permission to be, proving that the owner of the property gave the defendant consent to be there defeats that element of the crime and is likely to lead to an acquittal.
Another strategy for defending against a charge of burglary in Florida is to demonstrate that the defendant did not have the required intent under the statute. Frequently this can be proven by showing that the defendant was intoxicated. Involuntary intoxication is a much stronger defense than voluntary intoxication, but both can be used to show that the defendant did not have sufficient ability to develop intent at the time of the crime.
Burglary in Florida is another crime in which the entrapment defense may be used. It can be more difficult to establish than other defenses, but if the defense can show that another party convinced the defendant to commit the crime of burglary, an acquittal on those grounds is still possible.