Under normal circumstances, the burglary of a dwelling, whether the dwelling is occupied or unoccupied, is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
However, Florida law has carved out a few instances in which burglary of a dwelling can be punishable by life in prison.
In Florida, it is a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison (1st PBL) to commit a burglary of a residence while doing the following:
Committing an assault or a battery on any occupant inside. This crime is known as burglary with an assault or battery.
Entering the residence while armed or becoming armed while inside of the residence. This is known as armed burglary. The weapon need not be a firearm in order to be punishable by life. It must be a dangerous weapon.
Using a car as an instrumentality of the crime, meaning something other than a getaway car. This means that if you ram a car into a home for the purpose of burglarizing the home, you can face life in prison.
Causing damage to the dwelling in excess of $1,000.
If any of these scenarios apply, you can face life in prison.
Facing life in prison itself is daunting. However, Florida law designates all crimes punishable by life as non-bondable offenses.
Burglary with an assault or battery and armed burglary make sense as felonies punishable by life. However, many people don’t realize that using a car as an instrument of a burglary or causing $1,000 worth of damage to a home can result in a life sentence and no bond as well.
Any dwelling burglary charge in Miami-Dade or Broward is going to be taken seriously by the State Attorney’s Office.
There are many defenses available to burglary charges that should be discussed with a criminal lawyer.