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Coral Gables Experiencing Rash of Residential Burglaries

Some citizens of the Miami-Dade County municipality of Coral Gables are calling for the removal of the chief of police after a string of residential burglaries.

While normally a safe city known for its abundance of affluent homes and high-end shops, a rash of recent residential burglaries - including one where the theft exceeded $100,000 - have left many Coral Gables residents seeking the removal of the police chief.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), there were 391 residential burglaries in Coral Gables in 2013. That statistic would make Coral Gables more burglary prone than Hialeah, Doral, and even unincorporated Miami-Dade County.

Burglary of a dwelling, whether that dwelling is occupied or unoccupied, is a second-degree felony in the State of Florida. That means that if convicted, a judge can legally sentence you up to 15 years in prison. The bottom of the sentencing guidelines for a burglary of an occupied dwelling or burglary of an unoccupied dwelling recommends a sentence of 21 months, and that’s assuming that the accused has no prior criminal history.

Burglary requires an intent on behalf of the accused to commit a crime inside of the dwelling. That means that once inside of the dwelling, you must intend to commit theft or some other crime. Simply entering a dwelling is trespassing, a misdemeanor.

Under Florida law, the curtilege, or the area immediately surrounding a dwelling, can still be considered a part of the dwelling.

Burglaries can be proven a number of ways. Obviously, a witness can testify that he or see watched the accused commit the crime. The homeowner or person who legally occupies the property must testify that they did not give the accused permission to come onto the property.

Physical evidence such as DNA and fingerprints may be obtained from a burglary scene. DNA can be left at a burglary scene through sweat secretions or even blood if the accused cuts him or herself on a piece of broken glass. The DNA obtained from the scene may be compared to DNA in a database (the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS is a national DNA database comprised of DNA samples of adjudicated offenders) or by taking a standard from the accused and comparing it to what was found on the scene.

Video surveillance is more and more prevalent as a rising number of homeowners are using their own home security cameras. Also, confessions are still a powerful tool used to prosecute offenders.

If suspected of a burglary of a dwelling, invoke your right to remain silent and make no statements until you have had the opportunity to speak with a defense attorney.

Eric Matheny is a Miami burglary lawyer and a Broward burglary lawyer.