Most people are familiar with burglary as a general term referring to the theft of private property. However, not everyone is familiar with what “burglary of conveyance means” and what these charges indicate.
If you have been charged with burglary of a conveyance, you must understand the specifics of what this means in the state of Florida and what possible defenses might be available to you. Keep reading for a brief guide on burglary of conveyance from our team at Mike G Law.
What is Conveyance and Burglary of a Conveyance?
A conveyance is considered any motor vehicle or vehicle that can be used for transportation. This includes automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, buses, boats, railroad cars, trailers, and aircraft.
“Burglary of a conveyance” specifically refers to illegal activity that takes place within or around a vehicle or transport that does not belong to the accused.
As specified in Florida Statute 810.02, burglary of a conveyance means any of the following:
- Entering a conveyance without permission
- Hiding inside a conveyance
- Continuing to be inside a conveyance after permission to be there has been revoked
For a burglary of a conveyance charge to be relevant in any of these scenarios, there must also be a clear intent to commit a crime.
Note that “entering a conveyance” does not necessarily mean the suspect’s whole body entered or was inside the vehicle; only a part of the suspect’s body, such as an arm or hand, needs to enter the conveyance for the charge to be leveled.
How is Burglary of a Conveyance Punished in Florida?
As with most crimes, the penalty for burglary of a conveyance in Florida depends on the severity of the felony. Factors influencing the crime’s severity include:
- Whether the conveyance was occupied at the time of the burglary
- Whether the suspect was armed
- Whether the burglary took place during a riot or when a state of emergency was declared.
Burglary of a conveyance can be a third, second, or first-degree felony, depending on these circumstances.
As a Third-Degree Felony
Burglary of conveyance carries a third-degree felony charge if the vehicle in question was not occupied at the time of the burglary, the suspect was not armed, and no damage occurs to the conveyance or the surrounding property. If convicted, the suspect could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
As a Second-Degree Felony
The following conditions could result in a second-degree felony charge:
- The conveyance is occupied at the time of the burglary, but the suspect is not armed
- The target of the burglary is a controlled substance
- The burglary takes place during a riot or while a state of emergency has been declared
- The conveyance involved is an authorized emergency vehicle
This more serious charge carries a potential penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
As a First-Degree Felony
A first-degree felony charge will be leveled if the suspect:
- Assaults a person during the burglary
- Is armed or becomes armed
- Uses the vehicle to assist in the burglary
- Causes $1,000 or more in damages
If proven, this very serious charge could result in a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, along with a $10,000 fine. Under more extreme circumstances, the defendant could even face a life sentence.
What Are Some Common Defenses for Burglary of a Conveyance?
There are several potential defenses specific to charges of burglary of a conveyance, most of which depend on the accused’s intention at the time of the event and any consent the accused may have obtained to enter the vehicle before the event.
If two people are arrested at the burglary scene, police may charge both with the same crime, even if only one of them was actually caught inside the vehicle. The second person, the onlooker, might be accused of standing on watch while the other person committed the burglary. This type of scenario can occur when two people are walking or hanging out together, and one of them spontaneously decides to break into a vehicle nearby.
However, merely being in the vicinity of the event does not warrant a conviction of burglary of conveyance for the onlooker, as long as they did not partake in the illegal activity or goad the other person into committing a crime.
No Criminal Intent
The intent to commit a crime is key to proving that a burglary of a conveyance has taken place. However, there are many non-criminal reasons why a person might enter a vehicle that does not belong to them, such as escaping a threat or sheltering from the weather.
If the defense can clearly show that the defendant had no intention of committing a crime when they entered the vehicle, the charges may be dropped or downgraded to a less serious trespassing charge.
Consent Was Given
If the defendant can prove they had consent from a relevant party to enter the vehicle, this can provide ample protection from a charge of burglary of a conveyance. This defense most frequently comes up in situations where two or more individuals have authorized access to or ownership of a particular vehicle and one of them gives consent to the suspect without informing the other(s). The suspect cannot be convicted of a burglary of a conveyance charge even if the other owner or owners of the vehicle were unaware that consent was given to enter.
A consent defense can also apply when the alleged burglary takes place in or on a vehicle considered open to the public. In this case, the suspect has implied consent to exist within the vehicle. Even if they commit a crime while inside, they cannot also be charged with “burglary of a conveyance.” This defense does not apply to employee-only areas within public spaces since these are by definition off-limits to the public.
If You’ve Been Charged with Burglary of a Conveyance in Florida…
Don’t hesitate to get the legal advice and representation you deserve. Contact the team at Mike G Law right away. We will listen to your case and advise you on the best course of action before proceeding to court.
Get in touch with our legal experts in burglary of conveyance today to start building a case.