A number of questions may be racing through your mind in the minutes, hours, and days after being charged with burglary. One of the first things you may want to know is whether you are facing felony or misdemeanor burglary charges. Why? Every criminal offense is serious, but felony crimes carry far more severe consequences.
Is burglary a felony or misdemeanor crime in the state of Florida? What’s the difference between felony and misdemeanor burglary charges? How can a Tampa criminal defense attorney help you avoid a burglary conviction? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
What Constitutes Burglary in Florida?
Many people think that burglary and theft are the same, but that’s not the case. In Florida, burglary is defined as the act of:
- Entering a home, building, vehicle, or other structure without permission or authorization with the intent to commit a criminal offense once inside.
- Being invited or given authorization to enter a home, building, vehicle, or other structure, but then illegally remaining in the structure with the intent to commit a criminal offense once inside.
Some burglaries involve theft, whereas others do not. The state can charge you with burglary if you illegally enter a structure with the intent to commit any crime, not just theft.
Is Burglary A Felony or Misdemeanor in Tampa?
All burglary crimes are classified as felonies in the state of Florida. The crime of burglary is classified as either a first degree, second degree, or third degree felony depending on various factors, including the type of structure the offender entered, whether or not you were armed at the time of the crime, and whether or not the structure was occupied.
You will face first degree felony burglary charges if:
- You assault or batter someone while committing burglary; or
- You are in possession of explosives or a dangerous weapon while committing burglary;
- You cause damage to the structure with the use of a vehicle while committing burglary; or
- You cause more than $1,000 in damage while committing burglary.
You will face second degree felony burglary charges if:
- You illegally enter a home or any other structure designed to house people at night to commit burglary; or
- You illegally enter a structure or conveyance that is currently occupied to commit burglary; or
- You illegally enter an authorized emergency vehicle to commit burglary; or
- You illegally enter a structure with the intent to steal a controlled substance once inside.
You can face third degree felony burglary charges if:
- You illegally enter a structure or conveyance that is not occupied at the time you commit the crime.
What Are the Penalties For Burglary in Florida?
The penalties that the court imposes on burglary offenders can vary depending on a number of different factors, including the nature of the crime, the offender’s prior criminal record, and more.
The type of felony you are charged with will impact what penalties you face if convicted. First degree felony burglary is the most serious of all burglary charges, which is why it carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Second degree felony burglary is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Even the least serious of all burglary charges, third degree felony burglary, carries severe penalties. If you are convicted of third degree felony burglary, you can face up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
What is Trespassing?
As previously mentioned, every burglary crime in the state of Florida is classified as a felony. However, there is a criminal offense that is similar to burglary that is classified as a misdemeanor. This crime is known as trespassing.
You can face charges for trespassing if
- You enter or remain on a property without authorization or permission to do so.
- You legally enter a property, but refuse to leave after being asked to by the owner or lessee of the premises.
In other words, trespassing is just like burglary, with one exception. Burglary involves the intent to commit a crime once the offender has illegally entered the premises, whereas trespassing does not.
Most trespassing crimes are classified as misdemeanors, but there are a few exceptions. For example, if you commit trespassing while armed with a firearm or another type of dangerous weapon, this is a felony crime.
Can You Get Your Burglary Charge Reduced to Trespassing?
If you are charged with burglary, your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced to trespassing. Burglary is a felony, whereas trespassing is typically a misdemeanor. As a result, getting your charges reduced could help you avoid some of the most serious penalties imposed on criminal offenders.
For example, if you are charged with a first degree misdemeanor, the maximum penalty you will face is one year in jail as well as $1,000 in fines. This is nothing compared to the lengthy prison sentences that felony burglary charges carry.
Your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced as part of a plea bargain with the state. Or, if the state does not have evidence to prove that you had the intent to commit a crime once on the property, they may choose to reduce your charges to trespassing on their own.
Call Now to Schedule A Free Consultation Regarding Your Burglary Case
There’s a lot at stake in a burglary case, which is why you should never face these criminal charges on your own. Instead, turn to the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible. Since 1971, our attorneys have been helping the accused protect their rights and fight for their freedom. Our team has helped thousands of clients defend themselves against their criminal charges. Now, let us help you.
Call our law firm now to schedule a free consultation regarding your criminal case.