Burglary Versus Theft Crimes
It is a common misconception that burglary is a form of theft. In actuality, burglary and theft are distinct offenses under Florida law. In fact, burglary is closer to the crime of trespass, as both can be found under Chapter 810 of Florida’s Statutes. In contrast, theft crimes can be found under Chapter 812 of Florida’s Statutes. Upon closer inspection of each crime, these distinctions become clear.
Burglary Under Florida Statute § 810.02
Under Florida Statute § 810.02, “burglary” refers to two situations. In the first case, burglary involves entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime inside unless the place is open to the public or the person has legal permission to enter.
In the second situation, burglary includes staying in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance in a secretive manner with the intent to commit a crime, remaining after being asked to leave, or staying to commit or attempt a forcible felony as defined by law.
Florida law categorizes the crime of burglary into three degrees. First-degree burglary is a felony carrying a potential life imprisonment sentence if the offender, during the crime, makes an assault or battery, is armed with explosives or a dangerous weapon, or causes damage exceeding $1,000.
Second-degree burglary, also a felony, involves scenarios where the offender does not make an assault or use weapons, entering or remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance.
Third-degree burglary, another felony, applies when the offender doesn’t make an assault or use weapons, entering or remaining in a structure or conveyance. The severity of penalties can increase if the burglary occurs during a riot or state of emergency, with the level of the offense being reclassified accordingly.
The penalties for burglary offenses depend on the circumstances. Florida Statute § 775.082 allows for either death or life imprisonment without parole. Life felonies, first-degree felonies, and second-degree felonies have specified imprisonment terms. If the felony involves certain aggravating factors, such as making an assault or battery upon any person, being armed within the dwelling with explosives or a dangerous weapon, or causing damage to property during the offense, the offender may face an enhanced sentence.
Third-degree felonies might result in nonstate prison sanctions if specific criteria are met, but the court can opt for state correctional facilities if public safety is a concern. The statute also addresses prison releasee re-offenders, aiming for strict punishment, and emphasizes the uniformity of sentencing for covered crimes.
Theft Under Florida Statute § 812.014
Under Florida Statute § 812.014, theft occurs when a person knowingly obtains or uses another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of their rights or benefits or appropriates the property for their own or unauthorized use.
Similar to burglary, Florida law categorizes the crime of theft into different degrees. Grand Theft in the First Degree involves the theft of property valued at $100,000 or more, certain cargo, or using a vehicle to commit theft, causing property damage over $1,000. This offense is punishable as a first-degree felony.
Grand Theft in the Second Degree involves theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000, certain emergency medical or law enforcement equipment. This type of theft is punishable as a second-degree felony.
Grand Theft in the Third Degree involves theft of property valued between $750 and $20,000 or specific items like firearms, motor vehicles, or commercially farmed animals and is punishable as a third-degree felony.
Finally, there are less severe forms of theft. Petit Theft of the First Degree involves theft of property valued at $100 or more but less than $750 from a dwelling. Punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor.
Petit Theft of the Second Degree involves theft of property not specified in higher degrees. Punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor.
Robbery is the act of taking money or other property that can be subject to theft from another person or their custody, intending to deprive them of it permanently or temporarily. In the crime of robbery, the taking involves the use of force, violence, assault, or inducement of fear.
First-degree robbery occurs if the offender carries a firearm or deadly weapon during the robbery. Second-degree robbery occurs if the offender does not have a firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapon.
Like other felonies, robbery is punishable under the terms outlined in Florida Statutes § 775.082.
The Overlap Between Burglary and Theft Crimes
Although burglary and theft crimes are fundamentally distinct crimes, there can be an overlap between the two. As mentioned above, burglary involves entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime inside. Thus, burglary is a broad offense where the offender intends to commit any crime inside a dwelling, structure, or conveyance.
In cases where the intended crime is theft, the offender may be charged not only with burglary but also with the specific theft offense. Theft crimes, which encompass a variety of offenses such as larceny, grand theft, and petit theft, involve unlawfully taking someone else’s property with the intent to deprive them of it permanently or temporarily.
Therefore, a person may be charged with burglary if they enter a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit a theft crime inside. This dual nature of charges reflects the legal system’s recognition of the distinct elements of both burglary and theft, even though they may intersect in specific criminal scenarios.
The Benefits of Legal Representation
Given the potential stakes involved with a burglary or theft crime, it is crucial to engage in legal representation when facing such charges. An experienced attorney with a comprehensive understanding of Florida’s criminal statutes can provide invaluable insight into your case. Furthermore, a skilled criminal defense lawyer understands how to implement a strong and effective defense strategy that conforms to the specific circumstances of each case. If you are looking for a legal advocate to fight for your rights against criminal charges, contact Patrick B. Courtney at (813) 252-1529 to gain a better understanding of your legal rights and options today.