Burglary of a Dwelling

Tampa Lawyer Experienced in Theft Cases

Burglary of a dwelling is taken seriously by Florida prosecutors and courts even when it is a first offense. If you have one or two prior crimes or there are aggravating factors, the sentence may be substantial. A dwelling is a home that is designed to be inhabited by people overnight, and it includes any curtilage attached to it. This definition is expansive, and as a result, even if you are not charged with burglarizing a dwelling, you can be charged with burglarizing a structure or conveyance. At Hanlon Law, Tampa burglary defense attorney Will Hanlon understands how important your freedom is to you. He is dedicated to providing a knowledgeable, aggressive defense to his clients.

Burglary of a Dwelling

Under Florida Statute section 810.02, burglary of a dwelling involves going into or staying in a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime inside it, unless the property is open to the public at the time or you were licensed or invited to go in or stay there. Even if you were licensed or invited to enter, you can be charged with burglary of a dwelling if you surreptitiously (with intent to commit a crime) stay inside the dwelling, you stay inside after permission has been withdrawn with the intent of perpetrating a crime, or you either perpetrate or try to perpetrate a forcible felony.

It is a first-degree felony to commit burglary of a dwelling if, while burglarizing the dwelling, you:

  • Assault or commit battery upon someone;
  • Are armed or become armed with explosives or a dangerous weapon; or
  • Go into the dwelling and use a motor vehicle to help commit an offense other than as a getaway and thus damage the dwelling or otherwise cause damage to the dwelling that is worth more than $1,000.

In other words, if you drove into someone else's garage and accelerated into the wall of the house as revenge, you could be charged with burglary. Similarly, if you broke into a house to steal a television and beat up the woman who lived there, you could be charged with burglary of a dwelling.

You can be charged with second-degree felony if, while committing the burglary, you do not commit assault or battery or get armed, but there is another person there when you go in or when you stay. You can be charged with a third-degree felony if there is nobody there when you go in or remain.

A dwelling is often a house, but it is any sort of building or conveyance, including a porch that is attached, has a roof, and is designed for occupation by people lodging there at night. It includes the "curtilage," which generally means the front yard, side yard, or backyard. In some cases, a burglary occurs when a home is being renovated. A structure that is designed for lodging but that is not actually suitable for lodging at the time of the break-in may not be considered a dwelling. Additionally, there is an exception for natural disasters, such that the damaged remaining parts of the home can still count as a dwelling, even though the home is not suitable for lodging. For example, if there is a hurricane, and you go into someone's damaged home to steal their stuff, even though they are not living there, you could be charged with burglary of a dwelling.

There are often defenses available for burglary charges. Sometimes it is possible to poke holes in the prosecution's case, while in other cases, the method of gathering evidence was unconstitutional, resulting in a successful motion to suppress evidence necessary for the case. If there is little or no evidence to show that you intended to commit a crime, this can be a strong defense to get the charges dismissed, reduced, or defeated at trial.

Contact an Experienced Burglary Attorney in Tampa

If you are accused of burglary of a dwelling, you should take the situation seriously. You should not wait until you are formally charged to hire a theft crime attorney or try to strike a deal with the prosecutor by yourself. Our founder, Tampa lawyer Will Hanlon, has provided a tough, aggressive defense to people accused of serious crimes since 1994. He provides responsive and personalized representation to his clients. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment.