December 4, 2017
During Hurricane Irma, Florida police arrested several people for breaking through windows, breaking down doors, and looting stores, despite officers’ warnings to stay at home and look after their loved ones. Many of these looters were charged with burglary under Florida law.
Florida and most other states view looting and burglary charges seriously, and offenders may subject themselves to serious fines, not to mention court costs and other strict penalties. As such, you need a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney representing you every step of the way. The knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can investigate the facts and circumstances of your case and provide thorough, result-oriented legal representation.
Elements of Proof and Possible Defenses
Burglary generally refers to breaking and entering any structure with the intent to commit a felony or larceny therein.
“Breaking” does not specifically require that a window or door be smashed or broken in. Rather, opening a closed but unlocked window or fully opening a partially open window or door could constitute a breaking. “Entering” refers to the entry of any body part, such as a hand, foot, or arm, into the structure. A “structure” could be a dwelling place or other building, such as a warehouse or store.
Burden of Proof
For the state to prevail in a Florida burglary or looting case, the prosecutor must prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means a doubt based on ordinary reason and common sense. In the case of burglary or looting, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant actually entered the building—and with the intent to commit a felony or larceny.
In some cases—especially where a good criminal defense lawyer is involved—a defendant may instead receive a trespass conviction, which carries a lesser potential sentence than burglary. Trespass merely requires that a defendant knowingly entered onto private property without the authority to do so.
The most common defenses to burglary charges are lack of criminal intent on the part of the defendant or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Under Florida law, the mere knowledge that a theft or burglary is being committed is insufficient to be deemed a participant in a criminal enterprise.
Possible Penalties For Conviction for Burglary or Looting
Legal representation is necessary in a burglary or looting case because of the harsh penalties upon conviction. Possible penalties for conviction may include:
- Fines and court costs
- Probation Driver’s license suspension
- Community service
- Personal humiliation
- Loss of a job or professional license
Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer can analyze all of the facts and circumstances of your burglary or looting case and can help assemble all of the necessary evidence and legal defenses that may allow you to prevail in your case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense lawyer, please call us today at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.