In Florida, the
of an unoccupied structure is a third-degree felony punishable by up to
5 years in state prison. All an "unoccupied structure" is is
an unoccupied building not used as a residence. This crime is also referred
to as a business burglary, since it is usually a business that is broken
into after working hours.
Burglary of an unoccupied structure should not be confused with burglary
of an unoccupied dwelling. Burglary of an unoccupied dwelling is a home
burglary, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
While still a serious felony, burglary of an unoccupied structure is considered
the lesser of all the burglary charges. The most serious of the burglary
charges are burglary with an assault or battery (burg-batt) and armed burglary.
Burglary of an unoccupied structure occurs when somebody enters a structure
with the intent to commit a crime inside. This means that the accused
person must have the intent to commit a crime inside the structure, such as a
, criminal mischief, or other offense. Simply entering the structure is
not enough. That is merely a trespass, which is a
. Courts have also held that the act of breaking into the structure does
not constitute committing a crime inside the structure. In other words,
breaking a window, climbing inside of a building, and doing nothing would
likely constitute two misdemeanor charges: criminal mischief and trespass.
You must commit a crime, or have the intent to commit a crime,
of the structure.
Common structural burglaries occur in stores after they are closed. Electronics
stores, clothing stores, even gas stations, can be broken into after hours
by people looking for cash and other goods.
Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney and
former Miami prosecutor
, I have dealt with many structural burglary cases. If the offender has
no prior record, pretrial intervention is a possible option. The conditions
of pretrial intervention on a structural burglary usually include a stay-away
order from the establishment, as well as payment of
. A good criminal defense lawyer familiar with the Miami and Broward courts
may be able to negotiate a fair monthly payment so that the restitution
doesn't become a financial burden on the client.
If the client has a prior record, then pretrial intervention will likely
not be offered. The client and the criminal attorney will look to the
strength of the evidence. Does the store have surveillance footage? Are
there fingerprints? Are there eyewitnesses? Did the client make a statement
If the client has been enhanced as a habitual felony offender, habitual
violent offender, prison releasee reoffender (PRRP), or any other "career
criminal" designation, then the client may be facing anywhere from
10-15 years in prison. If the client is a habitual violent offender or
a prison releasee reoffender, the client may be facing a mandatory minimum
prison term of 5 years.
Burglaries are serious offenses in Miami and Broward. Their respective
police agencies and State Attorney's offices go after those accused
of burglary and seek convictions and jail time. If you or a loved one
has been accused of burglary,
call my office
and speak with me, a Miami and Broward burglary attorney.