Extending Burglary to Vehicles
The term “burglary” usually conjures thoughts of a darkened house in the middle of the night, but under Florida law, a burglary can also occur within motorized vehicles. An NBC News affiliate is reporting that these thefts are on the rise in some areas of South Florida, including Palm Beach and Martin County. The most common locations for these crimes are store parking lots, but there are even reports of incidents occurring within gated communities. A vehicle burglary conviction can carry serious consequences, so the assistance of an experienced attorney is vital to mounting a successful defense.
Some examples of vehicle burglary charges include a recent report about a father and son who were arrested in Palm Beach on allegations that they stole musical equipment from a vehicle, with an approximate value of $2,000. Authorities allege that the individuals broke a window in the car in order to remove the speakers. In another reported incident, Leon County Sheriff’s Department recently arrested two individuals for their alleged connection with more than 50 reports of vehicle burglary, as reported by an ABC News affiliate.
What is a Vehicle Burglary?
Florida Criminal Statute 810.2 defines burglary as “entering or remaining in a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter or remain.” Inclusion of the term “conveyance” expands the statute to entail a variety of motor vehicles, such as:
- Airplanes; and
- Railroad cars.
Any individual who enters into a conveyance with the intention of committing a crime may face charges of vehicle burglary. In order to gain a conviction, the state must not only prove that the accused did enter the vehicle, but also that it was done with the intention of committing a crime. While theft is the most common intended crime, vehicle burglary is also applicable to other crimes, such as assault or battery.
Vehicle burglary is classified as a third degree felony. The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment, with up to $5,000 in court levied fines. If a person is injured during the commission of the crime, the state may upgrade the charge to a first degree felony with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. This may also occur if a dangerous weapon is involved in the burglary, whether the accused brought the weapon along or it was found inside of the vehicle.
Defending a Vehicle Burglary Charge
An experienced attorney can mount a viable defense against a vehicle burglary charge. Some possible theories include the consent of the owner for the accused to enter the vehicle. An attorney may also argue that the defendant did not intend to commit any crime once inside the vehicle, which is an essential element of the crime.
If you or a loved one is facing vehicle burglary charges, our attorneys can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact the Miami law firm of Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.