Recent posts have discussed the crime of burglary in the State of Florida. However, as you may know, burglary is a crime that can occur in a number of places. It may occur in a car, which is called burglary of a conveyance. It may also occur at a place of business, which is called burglary of a structure. Today, I want to discuss with you the very serious crime of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.
In Miami-Dade County, where I onced worked as a felony prosecutor, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a common offense, but one with grave consequences. While burglary of an occupied dwelling is a serious crime as well, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a more frequently occurring crime due to the fact that most residential burglaries occur when the occupants are not home.
In the State of Florida, everybody charged with a felony is given a mathematical "score." This score will tell you what your sentencing guidelines, or range, is. If you are charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, you will automatically score out to 21 months state prison at the bottom, up to 15 years at the top, since burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a second-degree felony. And that's just if you have no prior record! A prior record may increase your guideline range. What this means is that you can be sent to prison for your first offense. You are likely not eligible for Pretrial Intervention for a burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.
I have prosecuted, tried, and defended clients charged with burglary. What I can tell you is that burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a charge usually accompanied by other charges, such as grand theft and criminal mischief. This is because if the police suspect that you have broken into a house, they will usually suspect that you have damaged property within or around the house, as well as stolen valuable items from the house. If you are accused of trying to sell those items at a pawn shop, you may be facing additional felony charges for Dealing in Stolen Property, and False Verification to a Pawnbroker.
Now, enough of the negative. What I can also tell you in my experience as a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor is that burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a tough charge for the State to prove. Without physical evidence, such as DNA or fingerprints, it is difficult for the State of Florida to prove that you are guilty. Also, without a confession or statement from the accused, the police and the prosecutors will have a tougher time getting their conviction.
Remember - this is why you should never speak to police without first talking to a criminal attorney. Burglaries are considered specialized crimes, and in nearly every police agency in Miami and Broward, burglaries are assigned to detectives. Detectives are not patrol cops. They are more experienced and better trained in how to elicit information from you. They are trained in psychology, which is why detectives are able to get people to confess. They know how to talk to you, how to lull you into a false sense of security. They make you think that they are your friends, and that if you just come clean, they will help you make this all go away.
That's all nonsense. Burglary detectives care about one thing. Sending you to prison for your alleged crime. That is it. They do not want to be your buddy. They will tell you anything they can to make you comfortable enough to speak with them. That is why I stress - do not talk to police without first speaking with a criminal defense attorney!If it is in your best interest to speak to police, a criminal defense attorney will let you know. More than likely, a good criminal defense attorney will advise you to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent.
In my criminal defense practice, I represent clients charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling in Miami, as well as throughout Broward County, in cities such as Miramar, Fort Lauderdale, and Deerfield Beach. As you can tell, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a very serious offense that could result in prison time if you do not carefully mount a defense.
If you or a family member have been charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, contact my office today to set up a consultation. My consultations are always free and may take place over the phone, or in person by appointment.