With the rise in opiate related addiction, our office has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people arrested in Pinellas County for Burglary to a Conveyance. In St. Petersburg alone, auto burglaries have increased by a staggering 45% since 2012.
With the advent of inexpensive security cameras, many apartment complexes and individual homeowners have been equipping their parking areas and driveways with discreetly mounted cameras. The Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office has been using these videos as evidence in their effort to convict individuals charged with auto burglary. In addition, the Pinellas County Sherriff's Office has started publishing videos of unsolved auto burglary videos on the Internet in an effort to apprehend individuals:
Even local law enforcement vehicles have been the subject of of Grand Theft Auto and Burglary to a Conveyance incidents. In one case, an unmarked PCSO cruiser was broken into and the Pinellas Sherriff’s Department suffered the loss of guns, ammunition, a bullet proof vest and a Sherriff’s badge. It took the law enforcement agency almost two weeks to release this embarrassing information.These “close to home” incidents and the overall rising statistics in the number of auto burglaries throughout the county have put pressure on our local law enforcement officials to diligently seek out and arrest perpetrators.
Have You Been Arrested For Burglary of a Conveyance?
“Burglary to a Conveyance” is more commonly referred to as “auto burglary.” Florida Statute Section 810.02 sets forth the elements of the crime and Florida Statute Section 810.011(3) describes what a “conveyance” is. However, the most common arrests involve motor vehicles or vessels.
This offense is categorized under Florida Statute Section 812.02(4) as a felony of the third degree which provides for penalties of up to five years in the Florida Department of Corrections (State Prison) and as much as a $5,000.00 fine. Given the threat of incarceration and the ramifications of becoming a convicted felon, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced lawyer if you or a family member are charged with this offense.
The Element of “Intent”
The prosecutor must prove that you “entered” the conveyance with the “intent” to commit a crime (other than burglary or trespass) once inside. However, Florida Standard Jury Instruction 13.1 was drafted by the Florida Supreme Court to comport with Florida Statute Section 810.07. As a result, if your case were to proceed to trial, the judge is required to inform the jury that:
“You may infer that the Defendant had the intent to commit a crime inside a conveyance if the entering of the conveyance was done stealthily and without the consent of the owner or occupant.”
The Element of “Entry”
The prosecutor must prove that you “entered” the conveyance. As a result:
- Breaking a car window might constitute the misdemeanor offense of “criminal mischief,” but would not rise to the level of a “burglary.”
- Removing tires and rims from a car would be appropriately charged as a theft offense, but it would not lawfully constitute the offense of burglary, since it lacked the critical element of “entry.”
Are You Facing Multiple Burglary Charges?
The criminal defense attorneys in our office routinely represent clients charged with these offenses. Our clients are sometimes arrested for the burglary of multiple vehicles. In many cases, the vehicles had been left unlocked. In fact, statistics show that less than 15% of auto burglaries are committed through the use of force (such as breaking a window).
Surprisingly, many thefts often involve items of little monetary or sentimental value. For example, sunglasses, ball caps or loose change. You should know that the “unlocked” nature of the vehicle, the lack of physical damage to the car or the insignificant nature of the property taken, does not constitute a legal defense to this crime. Nevertheless, we often use these kinds of factors in our effort to limit the number of charges filed, mitigate the punishment and to avoid a formal felony conviction. Sometimes returning the victim’s personal property or compensating him with restitution can also help us achieve the best final outcome in your case. Likewise, early intervention with the prosecutor may be successful in persuading him to limit the number of burglary charges or to reduce the charge to the misdemeanor offense of trespass of a conveyance.
How The Facts of Your Case Can Make a Difference
The facts of each client’s case can very different. At our initial free consultation, we will want to know what evidence has been secured by the police.
- Are the police in possession of a video tape they recovered from a security camera?
- Has law enforcement uncovered matching latent fingerprints from the automobile?
- Did you simply exercise “bad judgment” because you were impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the auto burglary?
- Did you “enter” the vehicle, or did you play a lesser part, such as acting as a “look out”?
Gaining Some Peace of Mind
Take the opportunity to read our comprehensive website page on Burglary to a Conveyance or Auto Burglary. You could gain some peace of mind by looking at possible strategies and solutions.
Learn Your Options – Free Consultation
If you have been charged with Burglary to a Conveyance we may be able to help you in several different ways. At our initial consultation we can discuss your eligibility to participate in the PTI diversion program which is structured to result in the dismissal of your pending criminal charges. In the alternative, we can explain how a “withhold of adjudication” can prevent a felony conviction. Lastly, its important for you to understand what steps need to be taken that would make you later eligible to apply for the sealing or expungement of your Pinellas records of arrest.
What Objective is Your Primary Concern?
You are invited to schedule a free consultation with us in our St. Petersburg or Clearwater office locations to discuss the facts of your case. We want to provide you with the opportunity to tell us what objective is your primary concern. Together, we can explore strategies designed to obtain the best possible outcome.
Talk to Our Highly Experienced Criminal Defense Team
Call for a free consultation.
St. Petersburg / Clearwater
Pinellas County, Florida
Criminal Defense Attorneys
Call a Former State Prosecutor!
Free Consultation with a Defense Lawyer
For St. Pete & Clearwater area DUI Arrests: www.duistpetersburglawyer.com
Consider Possible Solutions to Your Pinellas Case: www.defensehelp.com
How to Handle Your Prescription Fraud Charge: www.floridaprescriptionfraud.com
Were You Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?: www.mydisabilitylawfirm.com
Injured in an Auto Accident in Pinellas County?: www.injuryorarrest.com
Rash of Auto Burglaries in St. Pete Reported
St. Petersburg Sees Rise in Auto Burglaries
Pinellas Sherriff's Office Teaches Residents Auto Burglary Avoidance
Pinellas County Sherriff Publishing Online Auto Burglary Videos
What is the Pinellas County Drug Court?