Florida Burglary – Trespass

The Florida legislature has defined a burglary as entering or remaining in a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein. The distinction between a burglary and a trespass is whether a person either committed an offense while in a structure or intended to. Quite often a defense to a burglary may arise from the intent or lack of intent of the person accused.


Trespass is normally a misdemeanor offense. If a person is armed with a dangerous weapon during a trespass the offense is upgraded to a third degree felony. Trespass can also occur to posted land. Certain requirements must be met as far as the posting for that to be a crime.

” I was charged with a car burglary, but I did not take anything?” This is a question we are often asked as well as, “it was just an argument all I did was reach in the window and slap him, I did not burglarize anything!”

A burglary to a vehicle or a business is generally a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Entering a vehicle to take money or property is a burglary. Often we see cases where this is done to support a drug habit. Please see the section on drug charges on this website since much of the information and alternatives available on drug charges may apply as well to burglary charges. Call us and ask us if we can get you on a diversion program or if you have legal mitigation we can use in your defense.

A burglary to a dwelling or a vehicle is a felony of the first degree punishable by up to life imprisonment if in the course of committing an offense the offender makes an assault or commits a battery upon a person, or if he or she arms himself or herself within the dwelling or structure with a dangerous weapon or firearm (armed burglary) or causes damage to the dwelling or structure in excess of $1000. You do not have to enter a structure with a weapon for the charge to be armed burglary. Most people do not realize that if someone steals a weapon or firearm during a burglary it becomes an armed burglary.

If someone reaches into someone’s car and hits them, they can be arrested for a first degree felony because they ‘entered’ and committed an assault while any part of their body was inside of the structure.

Let us help you with defenses to burglary such as lack of intent, identification issues, entry issues, suppression of evidence, and with practical approaches and mitigation that can work in your favor. We have had extensive experience with all types of burglary accusations.

Generally, a burglary to a dwelling is a second-degree felony if there is no one present and no aggravating factors. A second-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Even though it may be only one count of residential burglary the sentencing code calls for a minimum prison sentence unless there are grounds for the Judge to depart or go below the sentencing code, or unless your attorney can convince the state to reduce the sentence or even reduce the charges. A trial may also be a good option for you depending on the circumstances. Larry Sandefer has over 250 jury trials and will discuss what your defenses and best approach to your case will be. It is important that you are a part of this process and you can help in your own defense.

There are many other circumstances which may come into play during a burglary charge depending on the individual circumstances and facts involved. Possessing burglary tools is also a felony in the state of Florida. Anything can be a burglary tool but the state has to prove that it was intended to be used in a burglary. Simply having a screw driver in one’s pocket may not be enough to sustain a possession of burglary tools accusation.

Often times burglaries are drug related. This is especially true where people may be taking items in order to sell them to sustain their addiction or other drug problems. Depending on the situation, alternatives may be available in sentencing negotiation and in mitigation of the penalties. We can discuss these matters with you if they may relate to your case.

The Florida punishment code is used by Judges and prosecutors to determine penalties which a judge may be required to impose on certain types of crimes, including burglary. A first offense burglary to one automobile may not call for mandatory prison sentencing, although a judge has the option of any sentence he or she believes is appropriate up to the maximum, with certain exceptions. However, the punishment code calls for a minimum prison sentence on many other types of burglaries, such as a burglary to a dwelling or a burglary where a weapon is involved.

What if I score out to prison on a burglary charge?

As mentioned above, the punishment code does allow in certain circumstances for a judge to “depart” from the guidelines and go below the guidelines if certain criteria apply. Burglary offenses are taken seriously in Florida and it is important that a person accused of a burglary or more than one burglary obtain the advice and representation of an experienced Florida burglary defense attorney. When you are looking around for the best burglary defense attorney to help you, please check out our experience and reputation, then call Sandefer law firm. The initial consultation is at no charge and will be held in confidence.

Burglary of any type with a firearm can be enhanced to a higher degree crime. Most burglaries in which a firearm is possessed carry a minimum mandatory prison sentence. These fall under Florida’s tough 10-20-Life laws.The state attorney’s office has wide discretion over what type of charge file and to proceed on. Often the facts of the case may allow us to negotiation with the state attorney for a reduction the charge to a lower degree burglary or to a trespass, theft or other charge. It is important to consult with an experienced Pinellas County burglary defense attorney as early as possible if you are suspected of or arrested for a burglary charge. Within approximately 10 days after an arrest the state attorney will review the arrest charge to determine if it will proceed with that charge or a different charge. Experience has taught us that the best time to begin talking with the prosecutor on your case is before they have filed a formal charge.

That is why Sandefer law firm encourages you to seek legal representation early. It is at this early stage where the best opportunity exists to discuss matters with the state attorney’s office and potentially lessen the exposure on a charge. If you are arrested or questioned anywhere in Pinellas County, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, or any municipality or unincorporated area, all matters are referred to the state attorney’s office on 49th St. for review and prosecution. If you are arrested anywhere in Pasco County including New Port Richey, Port Richey, Hudson, or Dade City all matters are still referred to the state attorney’s office in the Sixth Judicial Circuit which is headquartered in Pinellas County. but which has a branch office in New Port Richey and in Dade City. All arrests in Hillsborough County including Tampa, Temple Terrace, Brandon, and all cities in Hillsborough County are referred to the state attorney’s office in downtown Tampa for review and prosecution. Sandefer law firm is experienced with representing clients in all of these counties and cities. Your initial consultation or meeting is at no charge and, importantly, is strictly confidential. There is absolutely no obligation. Please call or e-mail us to discuss your case and the alternatives or options available to you.

When you are looking for A burglary defense attorney in Pinellas County, Pasco County, Clearwater, or St. Petersburg remember : When Experience Counts, Count on Experience. You can Count on Sandefer Law Firm.

Contact Florida Criminal Lawyers, Clearwater Burglary Defense Attorney, St. Petersburg Burglary Defense Attorney, Pinellas County Burglary Defense Attorney, and Pasco Burglary Defense Attorney

Larry Sandefer – Criminal Defense Attorney , Florida Burglary Lawyer

* Over 30 Years Courtroom Experience

* Former Lead Trial Lawyer

* Former Division Director

* Over 5000 Criminal Cases Handled

* Hundreds of Jury Trials as sole or lead counsel