Armed Burglary or Aggravated Burglary

Burglary in Florida is a serious crime. However, when one commits burglary with a firearm or commits assault/ battery in the midst of a burglary, the stakes are suddenly very high. Defendants charged with armed burglary or aggravated burglary are facing a possible life sentence.

These defendants must seek immediate legal counsel from an experienced Broward County criminal defense attorney to improve their chances of a favorable outcome. At The Ansara Law Firm, our dedicated defense lawyers will fight doggedly to ensure our clients’ rights are protected. This charge can be highly defensible, as our record of success shows. The earlier we can begin on a case, the better the odds.

What is Burglary?

In Florida, F.S. 810.02 states burglary is the appropriate charge when someone either enters or remains in a dwelling, structure or conveyance (car) with the intention to either commit some other offense. That could mean that either:

Defendant entered the premises legally, but stays on site with the intention to commit a crime OR the permission to be on site was revoked and defendant stayed with the intent to commit a crime. It could also mean lawfully entering a site with the intention to commit a felony offense.

We should note that full entry into the structure, building or vehicle is not required. As Fla. Std. Jury Instr (Crime) 13.1 points out, the crime could be considered complete if defendant, with intent to commit a crime, puts any part of his or her body into the vehicle or building.

A critical part of this charge involves proving defendant’s intent. Courts in Florida have allowed that juries may infer criminal intent if a defendant entered or tried to enter a premises in a stealthy or sneaky manner.

What is Armed Burglary/ Aggravated Burglary?

While a “typical” burglary charge in Florida is usually either a third- or second-degree felony (punishable by a maximum sentence of between 5 and 10 years in state prison), burglary can be a first-degree felony if the defendant was armed and/or violent.

Armed burglary or burglary with assault/ battery are both different forms of burglary, but with the added element of a weapon, physical violence or extensive property damage.

  • Armed Burglary – Defendant is armed with a dangerous weapon or an explosive. The definition of “weapon” is found in F.S. 790.001(13). It can mean any knife, metallic knuckles, slingshot, billie, dirk, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device or any other deadly weapon, except a common pocketknife or blunt-bladed table knife or plastic knife. A “deadly weapon” could mean a firearm or any other object that, while not necessarily a weapon, could be used to inflict deadly force.
  • Aggravated Burglary – This involves a burglary wherein defendant either commits an assault or battery (meaning he or she physically injures or threatens to injure someone) OR barrels into an occupied dwelling or building with a motor vehicle and causes an excess of $1,000 in damages.

These cases are often handled only be veteran prosecutors with the intention of ensuring a conviction and having that individual sentenced to a long prison term. As a first-degree felony, armed burglary or aggravated burglary can result in a sentence of up to life in prison.

Defenses to Armed Burglary/ Aggravated Burglary

Because the stakes are so high with these charges, defendants should never enter a plea on any burglary charge without first talking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

The exact approach a defense attorney may take will vary from case-to-case, depending on the evidence. However, some avenues we might explore include:

  • No proof as to the identity of the accused. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Grainy surveillance footage is usually not clear enough to make a positive identification. There could be an alternative explanation for defendant’s fingerprints found at the scene. The burden of proof in connecting defendant to that crime scene is on the prosecutors.
  • No criminal intent. Without proof of criminal intent – that is, entry with the intention to commit a crime – burglary cannot be charged. In some cases, defendant’s actions may constitute trespassing, but that’s a different (and much lesser) offense. Intent can be established with circumstantial evidence.
  • No proof of weapon. Prosecutors have to show the items found on defendant were in fact weapons, as defined by statute. We’ve seen cases where prosecutors have charged armed burglary when defendant had possession of a crow bar. While that tool could potentially be used as a deadly weapon, more likely in these cases it’s either a burglary tool (as defined in F.S. 810.06) or it’s simply an object a suspect happens to have with them.
  • Bystander. Simply being present with someone who decides spontaneously to engage in a criminal action such as armed burglary or aggravated burglary. Law enforcement will often charge the second person for being an accomplice or lookout. However, prosecutors will need to show the second individual acted consciously or said something that incited, caused, helped or encouraged the first person to commit the unlawful act.

If you have been arrested on charges of armed burglary or aggravated burglary, we can help defend your rights and protect your interests.

If you have been charged with a violent crime in South Florida, contact the Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (877) 277-3780.