The Difference Intent Can Make In A Burglary Case
The difference between a charge of burglary and a charge of criminal trespass is a question of intent. A person’s intent in entering a place without permission can mean the difference between being charged with trespass, which is a misdemeanor, and being charged with burglary, which is a felony.
When a person enters a place with the intent to commit a crime, the person can be charged with burglary. The state can prove a person’s intent in different ways depending on the circumstances of the case. If a person is carrying tools that may be used to break locks, this may be used as evidence to prove that the person’s intent was to commit a theft. Once the intent to commit theft can be proven, the person may be charged with burglary. If the state fails to prove the intent to commit a crime, other than burglary, the burglary charge cannot stand.
A person’s statements to the police after he is arrested can also be used to establish the person’s intent to commit a crime. This is why it is important to not make any statements to the police without speaking to a criminal defense attorney first. In attempting to explain his presence in a particular location, a person can easily talk his way to a burglary charge.
If a person commits a battery or an assault in the course of committing a burglary, the person can be charged with burglary as a first degree felony, which can result in a life in prison sentence. In addition, the nature of the premises a person enters can elevate the degree of the felony, for example, if a person enters or remains in a home with the intent to commit an offense, whether or not the homeowner is present at the time.
If the place a person enters with intent to commit an offense is open to the public, or the person is invited in, the person cannot be charged with burglary because there is no trespass. The issue of consent is an affirmative defense, and the person who is charged with the burglary has to prove that he was invited or licensed to be in the place he entered, or that the place was open to the public.
However, if a person enters a place with consent, or as an invitee or a licensee, and then remains there after the consent is withdrawn, then the consent can no longer be used as a convincing affirmative defense. This is the case even when a place is open to the public and the person enters an area open to the public and then remains there in secret after the area closes, intending to commit a crime.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing a burglary charge, you may have a defense that could reduce the charges you are facing, lead to the dismissal of the charges, or to an acquittal at trial. To find out more about your options when you are facing trespass or burglary charges, contact Scott Berry Law in West Palm Beach, Florida for a free consultation today.