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How Burglary Intent Can Be Proven

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

February 13, 2019

Burglary is a very serious felony crime, and Florida law punishes those who are convicted harshly. Although burglary often overlaps with robbery crimes, they are not the same charge. Anyone who trespasses and enters a building or structure with the intent to commit any crime inside can be charged with burglary. The intended crime does not actually have to occur for the burglary charge to stick – rather, the intent to commit a crime is enough for a conviction. For example, if a man entered a woman’s dwelling and then fled when another person returned to the home, it is still a crime. In many cases, though, the alleged burglar does not confess to committing a crime, which means the prosecution must prove the defendant’s intent. This is not always simple to establish.

The primary goal of the prosecution is to prove the alleged burglar’s intent when trespassing. Some of the most common ways burglary can be proven, as well as possible defenses, include:

  • The alleged burglar had possession of burglary tools, or instruments intended to gain entry into a building. This alone is a felony.

Possible defense: The defendant had a valid reason to carry instruments which resemble burglary tools, or had another use for the tools, like fixing a car.

  • The defendant has a prior history of burglary convictions.

Possible defense: In many cases, a criminal defense lawyer can bar this evidence from being entered at a trial, as it is very prejudicial to a jury.

  • A confession is inadvertently made, along the lines of “I wasn’t going to hurt anyone, I just wanted to look for something to sell.”

Criminal defense advice: It is very difficult to “un-ring a bell,” and any criminal defense attorney would advise you to exercise your Miranda rights to remain silent in the event of an arrest, as well as take advantage of your fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination.

  • Circumstantial evidence, such as a man breaking into a woman’s locked home found looking through her closet, would be enough to fill the burden of proof that the alleged burglar intended to commit a crime.

Criminal defense advice: This would be a difficult scenario to disprove, unless the alleged burglar had permission to enter the dwelling and there is a misunderstanding.

  • Another crime occurred when the defendant was trespassing, such as theft, injury, or death.

Criminal defense advice: Trespassing on another person’s home by breaking and entering, then committing a crime, is the definition of burglary. In these cases, a skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you secure a favorable plea bargain, should you choose to forego a trial.

Contact Our Skilled Miami Burglary Attorneys for Legal Representation

Charged with burglary in Miami? Our criminal defense lawyers are here to help. Contact Hager & Schwartz, P.A. for an immediate case evaluationtoday at (305) 330-1360 or contact us online for a swift response. We are available days, nights, and weekends!