Today's news reports of an occupied burglary in Miami-Dade County. The story can be read in its entirety at www.local10.com
The article discusses how police are searching for a man who allegedly broke into a Miami-Dade home last month. Police report that the residents were home at the time of the burglary. Apparently, the burglar startled the residents and then left.
According to Miami-Dade police, the man kicked in the front door of a home. Police said the man went into a bedroom that had several residents inside. The residents started screaming, and the man left, according to police. The man then left and fled in a vehicle.
An occupied burglary occurs, obviously, when residents are inside of the home. The crime may be elevated to home-invasion robbery
if the alleged burglar takes property from the occupant, rather than just the home of the occupant. If the alleged burglar threatens, touches, or strikes any of the occupants, the crime can be elevated
Since prosecutors fear that occupied burglaries can turn into dangerous situations, they tend to seek harsher penalties for alleged occupied burglars than for unoccupied burglars.
Also, occupied burglaries pose a number of different issues than unoccupied burglaries. For one, the issue of identity is easier for the State to prove. That's because the occupants may be able to personally identify the alleged burglar. In an unoccupied burglary, the alleged perpetrator is usually identified through fingerprints, an eyewitness (a neighbor), by making admissions to others, by making a confession
to police, being found in possession of the alleged victim's property, or by selling the property of the alleged victim (this itself is the crime of false verification to a pawnbroker
However, sometimes eyewitness testimony is the weakest form of evidence. In moments of panic, our minds are not as sharp as they are normally. If we experience sudden fear (such as seeing a stranger inside of your home), the panic may prevent us from clearly identifying the perpetrator. If the perpetrator leaves quickly and the witness only gets a brief glance, then the identification is questionable because the witness did not have a good opportunity in which to view the accused.
Without fingerprints, DNA, shoe or footprints, or any other pieces of physical evidence; the State is going to have a very difficult time proving an alleged occupied burglar guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The only exception is if the resident knows the accused.
Occupied burglaries are serious, but are heavily reliant upon eyewitness identification. However, if five witnesses are able to positively identify somebody as having been the burglar who entered their home, that is surely more credible than just one witness. Still, many witnesses and alleged victims will "huddle together" and discuss what happened to them. They may feed off of each other and convince one another that somebody is the perpetrator when they are really not.
That is because it is basic human nature to seek closure. Nobody wants to think that the person who broke into their home has gotten away. If the police show a few occupants a photo lineup; it may be possible for all occupants to falsely identify somebody simply based on the information that they shared with each other.
There are inherent weaknesses in almost every case. As a criminal defense attorney
, it is my job to exploit those weaknesses to the benefit of my client.
If you or a loved one has been charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling, call me
today. Your freedom may be at stake, even if you are a first-time offender.