WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROPERTY OFFENSES?
Property crimes are similar to theft offenses and often the two types of crimes can be charged based on the same incident or series of events, however they do require the added element of violating a person's property rights. For example, if a person steals $100 worth of jewelry from a retail store, they could be charged with a theft offense. However, if that person stole the same $100 worth of jewelry from a home or vehicle in which they were not permitted to enter, they could be charged with an additional property crime for unlawfully entering the property. Below are brief descriptions and explanations of some of the most commonly charged property offenses.
Burglary of a Dwelling – This charge involves the unlawful entering of a dwelling, which is a legal term for a house, condo or apartment, with the intent to commit a criminal offense there. The most common example of this crime is when a residential home is broken into and property is taken from the home. This offense is a second-degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in state prison. The penalties for this offense can be enhanced even further under Florida law if the burglary involves physical violence such as a battery or assault, or if the person is armed with a weapon of firearm at any point during the burglary.
Burglary of a Conveyance – This crime occurs wherever there is an unlawful entering of any motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer with the intent to commit a criminal offense. This criminal charge is commonly seen in cases in which automobiles or boats are broken into and property is taken. This crime can be charged regardless of whether there is any force used in breaking into the vehicle, and a separate charge can be brought for each individual vehicle involved. This charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, and again the penalties for this crime can be increased if the vehicle is occupied at the time or if there is a weapon or firearm used during the crime.
Burglary of a Structure – Very similar to the other forms of burglary outlined above, except that this charge involves the unlawful entering of a building of any kind with the intent to commit a criminal offense. This charge is commonly seen in cases in which a business office or building is broken into after hours and property or money is taken. This crime is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and may also be enhanced if there is excessive damage to the structure during the burglary, if a weapon or firearm is used, or if the structure is occupied at the time.
Trespass – The crime of trespass is defined as the unlawful entry upon or remaining in a property, whether it be a building, land, or vehicle. This is another very common property crime that although it does not involve any unlawful taking or stealing of property, it is still considered a property crime. This charge is frequently seen in cases in which a person is asked to leave a property by the owner and refuses or enters a property with posted “no trespass” signs. Trespass charges are almost always misdemeanor offenses punishable by no more than one year in the county jail, however if the trespass is committed on a construction site or done while armed with a weapon, it can be charged as a felony.
These are just some of the ordinary types of property related criminal charges frequently seen throughout criminal courtrooms in Florida. These offenses are taken very seriously under Florida law and the potential consequences and penalties that go along with these crimes are equally as serious. If you are under the stress of facing a property related offense, or if you have any questions regarding your legal rights in connection to these types of charges, please contact us today.