Florida Burglary Laws
Property crimes in Florida are handled in both County Court, for misdemeanors, and Circuit Court, for felonies. Theft charges are enhanceable, meaning that if you have two prior misdemeanor theft charges the State can charge an alleged third as a felony petit theft, increasing the maximum liability to five years in prison.
Because of this enhancement possibility, it is important to treat even a first time theft as a potential life changing event and mount a vigorous defense.
What Charges Can Be Filed
If the State believes they can prove the item(s) taken are worth more than $750, they can file the charge as a grand theft. There is a technical charge of retail petit theft that can allow the prosecutors to aggregate the amounts taken over several theft incidents given the right circumstances in order to meet the value threshold and file felony charges and try to prove a course of conduct in front of the jury.
Alleged amounts for theft continue to increase, all the way to a first degree felony, worth 30 years in prison, if the prosecutor can prove a value of $100,000 or more. In the higher dollar amounts alleged it can be very challenging for the state to prove value, an essential element of the charge, and an aggressive attorney will press the matter and hold the government to their burden of proof.
If the proof threshold is not met by the state, it can mean the difference between a 30 year felony and a 15 or even 5 year felony. This type of reduction can greatly affect the scoresheet and possible outcomes for a client.
Whether you have questions or you’re ready to get started, our legal team is ready to help.
There are some theft crimes that qualify as a felony no matter the true value of the amount. This charge is grand theft of statutory property. In this charge, the legislature has chosen items they determine, if stolen, should be a felony. Common grand theft statutory property items are automobiles, firearms, prescription medication, wills and codicils, even cattle, and certain amounts of citrus fruits.
If there is an unlawful entering during the course of the taking, then law enforcement and the State will likely try to charge a type of burglary in addition to the theft. Florida Statute 810.02 defines burglary as “entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein.
The most serious of which is burglary of a dwelling, a second-degree felony. There is a lot of nuance to a burglary of a dwelling, leading to questions like, does a garage count as a dwelling, what about a lanai or porch? Each of these questions can have huge impacts on the charge, applicability of other enhancements, possible diversion, and incarcerative outcomes.