The term burglary often conjures up images of a masked intruder breaking into someone’s home at night, but the truth is more complicated. Under Florida law, burglary charges can refer to a wide range of criminal conduct.
How Florida Defines Burglary With Assault or Battery
In the simplest terms, burglary refers to entering or remaining in a home, business, or other structure without permission while intending to commit a crime. Although that crime is most often theft, it could also be any sort of illegal conduct. The person doesn’t need to fully enter the premises, either. Even partial entry, such as when a person sticks their arm inside an open window, qualifies the offense as a burglary.
Assault or battery can qualify as the illegal conduct necessary to justify a burglary charge. Burglary with assault or battery charges mean that a person committed an assault or battery while in the midst of a burglary.
The general public often assumes that assault and battery mean the same thing, but these terms refer to two different types of illegal conduct.
- Assault means that a person threatened violence against the victim and had an obvious ability to pursue the threat. Note that a person doesn’t need to follow through with the threat to be guilty of assault.
- Battery means that a person touched or struck the victim against their will. This includes violence with a gun, knife, or other weapon, as well as hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, and slapping. Since the threat of violence often precedes the actual physical contact, battery charges often include assault.
Burglary with assault or battery could refer to physically injuring someone while attempting to steal their property, but the statute can also technically apply to other types of cases involving violence and unlawful entry. For example, a fight where one person strikes another after they have been asked to leave could lead to burglary with assault or battery charges. The charges could also apply when a fight that begins in a business parking lot progresses to take place inside the building.
It is not uncommon for police and prosecutors to interpret Florida statutes in a way that allows for more serious charges, which is often the case when someone is charged with burglary despite not having stolen anything. Overcharging burglary with assault or battery is a way of increasing their leverage and likelihood of gaining a conviction. Overcharging most often happens when they hope to get a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge, confess to a prior offense, or provide information regarding crimes another person has committed.
On its own, burglary is considered a second-degree felony that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you are not a United States citizen, this felony charge may also lead to removal proceedings.
When the charge is elevated to burglary with assault or battery, it becomes a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies can result in a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. There are also mandatory minimums imposed for any related firearms offenses.
Building an Effective Defense
There are a number of potential defenses when you are charged with burglary with assault or battery. For example:
- The charge is a result of mistaken identity.
- You had permission to enter, or the premises were open to the public.
- You had no intent to commit a crime.
- You were acting in self-defense.
- The other party consented to engage in mutual combat.
Determining which defense is most effective will depend on the specifics of your case. Since the penalties for this type of charge are severe, the best thing you can do is to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At George Reres Law, our experienced Florida criminal defense attorneys will investigate all possible options for getting the charges dropped or reduced. You can count on us to listen to your side of the story, answer any questions you might have, and provide the honest advice you need to determine the best way to proceed. Call us at (954) 523-3811 or fill out our contact form to request a confidential consultation.