Theft vs. Burglary in Florida: There is a Difference
People in Orlando generally know that taking someone else’s property without their consent is against the law. When another person does steal someone else’s property, the victim often claims that they have been ‘burglarized.’ However, this is not entirely accurate. While burglary can involve theft, that is not always the case. If you have been charged with a crime, or are under investigation, it is important to speak to an Orlando criminal defense lawyer right away.
The Difference Between Burglary and Theft in Florida
Florida law defines the criminal offense of burglary as entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense. The only exception to this is when the premises were open to the general public, or the accused was invited inside, or had a license to enter. For example, consumers are considered licensees of a business. If someone entered the business and stole merchandise, the offense would constitute retail theft, not burglary.
It is also considered burglary when a person secretly remains inside a building or stays after the owner has withdrawn permission for them to be there. Like when entering a building, a person must have the intent to commit a criminal act, or attempt to commit a forcible felony while still inside the building.
Under Florida law, the criminal act of theft is defined as using or obtaining, or attempting to use or obtain, another person’s property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the benefits or use of the property. Appropriating property without the owner’s consent and for one’s own personal benefit is also considered theft. Theft can occur regardless of whether the defendant intended to temporarily or permanently keep the property.
How are Theft and Burglary Classified in Florida?
Burglary is a very serious offense in Florida and is classified as a felony of the first degree. If the offense involved assault and battery, a defendant armed with explosives or dangerous weapons, or a vehicle was used during the commission of the crime, a person could face up to life in prison.
In cases when these aggravating factors are not present, a person may be charged with a felony of the second or third degree. The charge laid will depend on the type of building the accused entered, and whether anyone was inside at the time. A conviction for a felony of the second degree can include up to 15 years in prison, while a conviction for a felony of the third degree can result in up to five years in prison.
The penalties for theft generally depend on the value of the property stolen. A conviction for petit theft can result in a jail term of no longer than 60 days, while a conviction for grand theft of the first degree, the most serious theft offense, carries a maximum penalty of up to 30 years.
Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orlando Today
Regardless of the crime you have been charged with, our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at O’Mara Law Group can help with your case. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help you beat the charges.