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What are the elements of burglary?

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Burglary involves unlawful entry into any structure in Florida with the intent to commit a crime on the premises. It does not necessarily involve physical force, as a perpetrator can enter through an open or unlocked door.

The elements of burglary

The basic definition of burglary, based on the Modern Penal Code, involves these three elements:

  • An unauthorized entry
  • Involving a building or structure
  • Intent to commit a crime on the property

All three elements must be present for a burglary conviction. To mount a criminal defense, you should understand what each element entails. Breaking and entering can occur in two ways: actual and constructive. Actual involves physical force, while constructive involves using other means, including blackmail or fraud. The structure involved must be capable of sheltering people or animals or may be used for storing goods and must be closed to the public at the time of the incident. Abandoned buildings generally do not qualify, and in some cases breaking onto the grounds of a property also won’t meet the definition. The final element, mental intent to commit a crime, must be present. For example, someone who gains access to a building and merely looks around may not have committed burglary.

All criminal charges are serious

Even though you may be charged with burglary, it doesn’t mean you will be convicted, as the prosecutor must prove all three elements. Nevertheless, you should take all criminal charges seriously because if you are not proven innocent, you could end up with a conviction on a lesser charge.

Other charges like vandalism or resisting arrest can still follow you around and wreak havoc in your life if you receive a conviction. The details of the crime you are charged with can affect your defense. Keep in mind that each case involving burglary is unique. The charges can escalate or be reduced accordingly, depending on how strong the evidence is against you and how thorough your defense is.