Burglary to a Conveyance – Auto Burglary

Burglary to a conveyance is the legal description in Florida of a criminal offense more commonly referred to as an “auto burglary.” Under Florida Statute Section 810.02, the prosecutor must prove that you “entered” the conveyance with the intent to commit a crime once inside.

Most often, the crime “intended” to be committed once inside the vehicle is the criminal offense of “theft.” However, Florida law allows a Pinellas County prosecutor to charge “Burglary to a Conveyance” in connection with other types of criminal offenses. In other words, a “Burglary to a Conveyance” could involve a crime other than theft of personal property. For example, the crimes of assault, battery, or criminal mischief can also underlie a “Burglary to a Conveyance” charge in Florida.

What is a conveyance?

The most common examples of a “conveyance” include motor vehicles and boats. However, Florida Statute Section 810.011(3) provides a more comprehensive list (trailers, railway cars, airplanes, etc.).

What are the Penalties in Florida for Burglary to Conveyance?

Under Florida Statute Section 810.02(4) this offense is categorized as a felony of the third degree. It carries penalties of up to five years in the Florida State Prison system and up to 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 Pinellas criminal defense attorney if you or a family member are charged with this offense. Based on the individual facts and circumstances of your case, there are a number of strategies that a St. Petersburg / Clearwater defense lawyer can employ to help.

Burglary Assault and Burglary-Battery

The penalties can substantially increase under certain circumstances. If after entering the conveyance with any part of your body, you are accused of thereafter committing an assault or battery upon someone inside the vehicle: this offense becomes “Burglary-Battery,” a felony of the first degree and punishable by up to life in prison. Depending on the facts and circumstances, an early intervention by the criminal defense lawyers in our office may be successful in convincing the prosecutor to file the charge as a lesser offense. If you are accused of entering the conveyance while armed with a dangerous weapon, or take possession of a weapon you find inside the car or boat: this offense becomes “Armed Burglary,” a felony of the first degree and punishable by up to life in prison. Depending on the nature of the weapon and your intended use, an early intervention by the criminal defense attorneys in our office may be successful in convincing the prosecutor to file the charge as a lesser offense.

Additional Charges that may Accompany a Vehicle Burglary Arrest in Florida

If you entered a conveyance without the permission or consent of the owner and thereafter removed personal property, it is likely you could also be charged with misdemeanor “Petit Theft” if the value of the property was under $300.00 or felony “Grand Theft” if the value of the stolen items reached $300 or more. Because these companion charges are considered crimes of dishonesty, they can have a far-reaching impact on your future educational, licensing, or employment endeavors. It is the objective of our office to resolve any additional charges at the same time as the burglary offense, and in a like manner that avoids a formal conviction. Doing so, will avoid the stigma associated with having a theft conviction on your record.

Challenging the Value of the Item Taken

The actual value of the property can sometimes be challenged causing the charge to be reduced from a felony to a lesser misdemeanor offense. Is the prosecutor attempting to use a speculative value or a value tied to the “original retail purchase price?” If so, the Florida courts have held that this is insufficient by itself to prove the item’s value at the time of the theft. We will want to investigate the “market value,” “replacement value,” or “depreciated value” in accordance with Florida Statute Section 812.012(10).

The Facts in Your Case Can Make a Difference

The facts of each burglary case are unique. For example, at our initial consultation, we will want to know:

  • Are the police are likely to have secured your latent fingerprints from the vehicle?
  • Did you simply exercise bad judgment at the time of the offense because you were impaired by alcohol or drugs?
  • What was your motivation for entering the automobile or other conveyance?
  • Did you actually enter the vehicle, or did you play a lesser role, such as simply acting as a “look out?”
  • Had the vehicle been left “unlocked” by the owner, or was there a “forced entry” that resulted in damage to the vehicle or vessel?
  • What types of items are alleged to have been removed from the conveyance? Were they of a valuable or sentimental non-replaceable nature? Or in the alternative, were the items common objects of minimal value that can be easily replaced?

Given the facts and circumstances of your case, the criminal defense lawyers in our office will decide if an early intervention with the prosecutor could be successful in persuading him to limit the number of formal charges or to file a lesser offense. Often, the unsophisticated nature of the conduct can be an important mitigating factor that we will point out in order to help achieve a favorable resolution in your case. In situations where a drug addiction, alcohol impairment, youthful mischievous behavior, or peer pressure played a role, we may advise you on undertaking some proactive steps that will help assure the court that your conduct was isolated in nature and unlikely to reoccur in the future.

Have You Been Charged with Multiple Counts of Auto Burglary?

– We May Need to Intervene to Reduce Your Exposure – Our clients are sometimes arrested in the St. Petersburg / Clearwater area for a single criminal episode that involved the burglary of more than one automobile. In some cases, the vehicles had been left unlocked by their owners. Common items taken often include GPS devices, MP3 players and cell phone chargers. Surprisingly, some thefts involve items of little monetary or sentimental value. For example, sunglasses, CDs, ball caps or loose change. In cases where there are multiple burglary to conveyance charges, our office will want to quickly intervene with the prosecutor in an effort to limit the number of charges filed, mitigate the punishment and to avoid a formal felony conviction. Obviously, “making the victims whole” by either returning the property or compensating them for their losses can also go a long way in achieving the best possible outcome.

How an Experienced Auto Burglary Lawyer Can Help

If you have been charged with Burglary to a Conveyance in Pinellas County, we can help you in several different ways. Talk to us about your eligibility to participate in the PTI diversion program which is designed to result in the dismissal of your criminal charges. Learn how a “withhold of adjudication” can prevent you from being a convicted felon and the criteria for later sealing your criminal arrest records. Schedule a free consultation so we can discuss the facts of your case and explore the best strategy for achieving the objectives most important to you.

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