7 Coral Gables teenagers will be charged with trespassing for illegally entering the home of former Miami Heat star Ray Allen.
The incident occurred several weeks ago. Allegedly, the 7 teens who had been attending a party in the exclusive Coral Gables community in which the Allen family lives walked over to the basketball star’s home and slipped in through an unlocked back door.
Upon hearing noises and seeing a flashlight beam, Allen’s wife woke up and confronted the teens. The teens immediately left the home.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office opted to file misdemeanor charges of trespassing because there was no proof of the teens’ intent to commit a crime inside of the home.
In Florida, the difference between a burglary and a trespass is that one must enter a property without consent of the occupant or owner with the intent to commit a crime inside of the property. For most burglary cases, the intent is theft.
Simply entering a dwelling without intending to commit a crime therein is a trespass. Trespass of an occupied residence is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail.
The teens apparently admitted to police that they just wanted to see the inside of Allen’s home.
Most likely, the teens will be given the chance to enter the Pretrial Diversion Program (PTD). Upon completion of the program, their charges will be dropped and they may expunge their records.
PTD is an option for many first-time offenders charged with non-violent misdemeanors.
This case has drawn criticism with some thinking that the teens should have been charged with burglary. Burglary of an occupied dwelling is a second-degree felony that carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Criminal charges must be filed not on public opinion but on the evidence. If there is no evidence of anything other than an unlawful entry than trespassing is the appropriate charge.
Eric Matheny is a Miami trespassing attorney and Broward trespassing attorney. Attorney Matheny also represents clients charged with burglary.