Burglary of a Dwelling

Clearwater Lawyers Helping Defendants Fight Serious Felony Charges

Dwellings are places where people live. They can be apartments, houses, cottages, townhouses, or flats. Burglary of a dwelling is a charge that is taken very seriously. You can face harsh consequences if you are convicted of this crime, particularly if a firearm was involved. If you are charged with burglary of a dwelling, you should consult a Clearwater burglary defense attorney. At Hanlon Law, we strongly believe in protecting the rights of the accused.

Charges Involving Burglary of a Dwelling

Dwellings are temporary or permanent buildings that have a roof. They can be immobile or mobile, as long as they are designed to be lived in or occupied by a person at night. Florida Statutes section 810.02 allows a conviction for burglary of a dwelling if it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you: (1) went into a dwelling (2) that someone else owned or possessed, (3) intending to commit a crime inside. For example, if you broke into a friend's apartment, planning to rape her, you could be convicted of burglary of a dwelling. For another example, if you broke into a stranger's townhouse, planning to take a huge plasma TV that you spotted through the window, you could be convicted of burglary of a dwelling.

A conviction for burglary of a dwelling can also be obtained with proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you legally went into a dwelling and: (1) stayed inside, planning to commit or try to commit a forcible felony inside, (2) stayed after the owner withdrew permission, intending to commit a crime, or (3) stayed surreptitiously, intending to commit a crime. For example, if you were invited into an apartment for a dinner party, and then you threatened violence on your host and were asked to leave, but you stayed with the intent to beat up the host, you could be charged with burglary of a dwelling, in addition to battery.

If you break into a dwelling stealthily, the jury is permitted to infer that you had the requisite criminal intent. The rationale is that you would not go into someone else's home stealthily unless you had a criminal intent. The crime is complete even if only part of your body goes into the home. In other words, even if you only put an arm inside the broken window of someone else's house with the intent of stealing from him, but you were interrupted before you could follow through, you could face a burglary charge.

The consequences of a burglary charge depend on multiple factors. The discharge of a gun can result in a mandatory minimum sentence for burglary of a dwelling. A first-degree felony could also be charged if you committed an assault or battery while burglarizing someone's home. You could also be charged with a first-degree felony if you broke down someone else's garage door by using a motor vehicle, damaging the dwelling, in the course of the burglary. Similarly, if you caused damage to the home in an amount over $1,000, you could face first-degree felony charges. First-degree felony convictions can result in life in prison. However, a Clearwater criminal defense attorney often can argue for a reduction in the charge or sentence.

When burglary of a dwelling does not involve firearms or other weapons, and there was no violence, but there was somebody at home when you entered or stayed, you will likely face second-degree felony charges. A conviction could result in 15 years in prison or on probation and a $10,000 fine. However, if you wore a mask during a burglary that would normally be charged as a second-degree felony, it could be reclassified to a first-degree felony under Florida Statute section 775.0845. Whenever a mask or hood is worn during burglary of a dwelling, the degree of the offense will be reclassified so that you are charged with the next higher degree.

Contact a Tenacious Theft Crime Attorney in Clearwater

Burglary of a dwelling is a felony charge, and you should hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight the charge on your behalf. The potential sentences are harsh, and a conviction can haunt you far into the future. Our firm's founder, Will Hanlon, has fought for criminal defendants since 1994. You can call us at 727-897-5413 or complete our online form.