When we see burglaries depicted on television or in movies, we might imagine a person kicking down a door in the dead of night to steal something inside the home or building. However, under Florida law, burglary does not need to be so dramatic to be considered a crime.

What constitutes burglary in Florida?

Under Florida law, if a person enters a dwelling, building or conveyance with the intention of committing a crime therein — unless the premises is open to the public or the accused is invited in — this constitutes burglary. Burglary in Florida is a felony crime.

Note that entering for the purpose of constituting burglary does not need to be a forceful entrance. A person could simply walk through a door that is ajar or unlocked. In addition, the crime intended to be committed therein is not limited to theft crimes. Any crime intended to be committed therein meets this element of burglary.

Burglary in Florida can be a first- second- or third-degree felony

The type of felony a person accused of burglary faces depends on a variety of circumstances. For example, if the accused purportedly assaulted or battered a person in the course of committing the burglary, is armed with explosives or a dangerous weapon or enters the dwelling or structure using a motor vehicle (an exception is made for getaway vehicles) or causes property damage exceeding $1,000, this is a first-degree felony.

In the absence of a violent crime or dangerous weapon or explosive, if the burglary is committed while someone is in their dwelling, structure or conveyance when the accused enters it, this is a second-degree felony. It is also a second-degree felony if the crime intended is the theft of a controlled substance.

Finally, in the absence of a violent crime or dangerous weapon or explosive, if the burglary is committed while the structure or conveyance is unoccupied, this is a third-degree felony.

Seek assistance if you are accused of burglary

A first-degree burglary conviction has steeper penalties than a third-degree burglary conviction. However, any burglary charge in Florida should be taken seriously. This post does not contain legal advice applicable to any specific situation. Ocala area criminal defense attorneys may be a useful resource to those accused of burglary.