Burglary & Trespass

Fort Lauderdale Burglary & Trespassing Attorney

In Florida, burglary and trespass are two different but closely associated crimes. Both involve entering or remaining on or in the property of another. Both crimes are governed by Florida Statutes, Chapter 810. Contact our Fort Lauderdale burglary & trespassing attorneys for more information.

Trespass

Trespass in Florida, including the Ft. Lauderdale area, occurs when a person without authorization, license, or invitation willfully enters or remains in a home, building, structure, vehicle, aircraft, or other “structure or conveyance.” The willful requirement simply requires that the person entered or remained on the property intentionally. Someone who was pushed onto land doesn’t commit the crime of trespass because they didn’t intend to enter the land.

A trespass also occurs when a person enters onto land without authorization, license, or invitation, but there must be some type of actual or implied notice (a fence for example is implied notice) that prohibits entry onto the land. The purpose of the notice requirement is to ensure that innocent individuals who enter onto land that appears to be open to the public (but isn’t) aren’t charged with a crime.

There is also a special type of trespass charge for entering into construction sites without permission. If all the conditions are met, the crime is a third degree felony. This is a crime particularly relevant to those in the Ft. Lauderdale area, which contains a number of residential and commercial sites under construction.

Permission and necessity are two possible defenses to trespass charges. A permission defense requires proof the defendant entered into the property with express or implied permission of the owner. However, permission doesn’t last forever, and a person that originally entered into property with permission can be convicted of trespass if that permission is later revoked and the person continues to remain on or in the property. Necessity is a defense that can be used if the trespasser had no choice but to enter onto the property to protect themselves or someone else.

Burglary

Burglary can be committed where there was no permission to enter or where there was initially permission but that permission has been withdrawn. The requirements under each scenario are different as illustrated by Florida Statutes 810.02, which provides two definitions for burglary:

  1. “[e]ntering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter” OR
  2. “remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance: surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense therein; after permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein; or to commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony, as defined in s. 776.08.”

It’s a rather long and involved definition, but each part of the definition is important as the state’s failure to prove any part could serve as a defense. For example, if a defendant enters a dwelling (a place people sleep) without invitation, but the state fails to prove that the defendant intends to commit an offense in it, the defendant cannot be convicted for burglary. In other words, unlike trespass, merely entering onto or into the property of another is not enough to sustain a charge.

Burglary charges range from third degree felonies to first degree felonies, depending on the surrounding circumstances. For example, the presence of a person in the burglarized structure will increase the severity of the charge.

Defending Your Case

As with all types of criminal cases, Fort Lauderdale burglary & trespassing attorney, Mark S. Lowry can help you defend charges or trespass or burglary. Contact the office today for a consultation on your case and to learn how Attorney Lowry can be of assistance.