Burglary and Trespass

Types of BurglaryThe crime of Burglary in Florida has a wide range of consequences. Depending on the facts of the case, a person could get just probation all the way to life in prison. The three primary areas that a burglary can be charged are:
  1. Burglary of a Dwelling, which is usually the most serious;
  2. Burglary of a structure, often an out building, but still very serious; and
  3. Burglary of a Conveyance, which includes among other things, breaking into a vehicle.

Definition of Burglary

  1. Unlawfully entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime inside; or
  2. Lawfully entering a dwelling, structure, or conveyance, but then remaining inside either:
    1. Surreptitiously, with the intent to commit a crime;
    2. After permission to remain has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit a crime inside; or
    3. With the intent to commit a forcible felony.
Penalties and Consequences of a Burglary conviction

The penalties for the crime of Burglary depend on which type of Burglary you are charged with:

Burglary of a Dwelling, for example, is generally a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years. Even with no prior record, a person “scores” 21 months of prison. Furthermore, if an assault or battery, or if a person is armed while inside the dwelling during the course of the burglary, then the degree changes and a person faces up to life in prison. What a person scores for prison purposes, is also dependent on whether the dwelling is occupied or not.

Burglary of a Structure is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years prison, but only if it is unoccupied, in which case, it becomes a second degree felony.

Burglary of a Conveyance, also commonly known as “breaking into a car/vehicle/truck, etc.” Once a person crosses the threshold of the vehicle, whether it be an unlocked door, or a broken window, and they have the intent to commit a crime (usually theft, but it can be any crime), the crime of burglary has occurred. This is a third degree felony and while commonly associated with Juvenile offenses, this is an offense that is often hard to prove.

Defenses to Burglary

There are definitely ways to fight a burglary and several defenses are available. For example, if a person gave you consent to enter and you had no intent to commit a crime, you shouldn’t be convicted of a burglary offense even if you commit another crime while inside the structure or dwelling. Often, when there are multiple people who claim to have authority over the premises, consent can certainly be an issue. Additionally, for businesses that are alleged to have been burglarized, if it is open to the public, then a person has automatically received consent barring some other reason such as a trespass order.

Probably, the most important defense to a burglary charge, and most criminal offenses is the lack of intent to commit a crime while inside the dwelling, structure or conveyance. If a person enters a stealthy or sneaky fashion, then this can be evidence of intent. However, I have shown prosecutors that sometimes there was no intent to commit a crime, for example to escape an emergency or the weather, and then I am able to get the prosecutor to dismiss or amend the charge. (Misdemeanor trespass is often an alternative).


Trespass is often a lesser included offense of burglary, however, it is a crime unto itself. There are different kinds of trespass, such as trespass to a structure, trespass to property, and trespass after warning. These also come in various degrees of penalties. Most are first degree misdemeanors that are punishable by up to one year in jail. But some are less serious (a possible 60 day jail sentence), while others, such as trespassing while armed or on school property, become third degree felonies, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Burglary or Trespass in the greater Tampa Bay area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Craig Epifanio today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you of the proper course of action that can be taken.