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Property Crimes


Property crimes are crimes or action where a victim’s property is stolen or destroyed, some examples of property crimes include burglary, theft, vehicle theft, criminal mischief as well as arson, just to name a few.



Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is the destruction of the property belonging to another. Criminal mischief is referred to as “Destruction of Property” or “Vandalism, and it can be Misdemeanor or a Felony depending on the value of the property involved. It is illegal to intentionally or maliciously damage or destroy the property of another. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 806.13), a person commits the crime of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto. To prove the crime of criminal mischief, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant injured or damaged real or personal property.

  2. The property injured or damaged belonged to another.

  3. The injury or damage was done willfully and maliciously.


Penalty/Punishment for Criminal Mischief

The punishment for criminal mischief in Florida varies depending on the amount of destruction exacted upon another’s property. The property’s value is not a specific element of the offense of criminal mischief, but it determines the degree of the charge an offender will face either misdemeanor or felony.

If the value of the damaged property is $200.00 or less, the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by:

Up to 60 days in county jail

Up to 6 months of probation

Up to $500.00 in fines.

If the value of the damaged property is more than $200.00 but less than $1,000.00, the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by:

Up to 12 months in county jail

Up to 12 months of probation

Up to $1,000.00 in fines.

If the value of the damaged property is $1000.00 or more, the crime will be charged as a felony of the third degree punishable by:

Up to 5 years in Florida State Prison

Up to 5 years of probation

Up to $5,000.00 in fines.


Common Defenses to Criminal Mischief

Damage to one’s own property: if you are the owner of the allegedly damaged property, there can be no charge because one of the elements of the crime that the State/Prosecutor needs to prove is that the property belonged to another and if it belongs to you there is no way they can prove that element.

The owner does not press charge: just like the defense above if the owner of the property does not want to press charges, it will be difficult for the State/Prosecutor to prove all element in the case.

Unintentional damage: this is when the damage to the property occurs by accident and without intent to cause such a damage, for example, you are walking towards your car and trip and fall while holding on to another’s clothes causing it to tear.

Protecting Self: damage property in other to avoid harm to your person.

Arson

Arson is the intentional setting of fire on a property whether occupied or not. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 806.01), to prove the crime of arson, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant willfully and unlawfully or while engaged in the commission of a felony caused fire or explosion to

  2. A dwelling, whether occupied or not, or the contents of the dwelling, was damaged by the fire or explosion.

It’s important to note that not every setting of fire is considered arson, accidental fire happen all the time and the state cannot charge you with arson just because there was a fire. They have to prove actual intent to cause the fire and damage caused by the fire or explosion. They must show malicious intent.

Penalty/Punishment for Arson

The crime of arson can be charged as a first- or second-degree felony depending on the kind of structure/dwelling and whether it was occupied when the fire was set.

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 806.031(1), a person who perpetrates any arson that results in any bodily harm to a firefighter or any other person, regardless of intent or lack of intent to cause such harm, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 806.01(1), arson is charged as felony of first degree when the fire is set on a dwelling whether occupied or not, or fire is set to a structure where the defendant knows or has reasonable grounds to believe structure was occupied at the time of the fire. Arson in the first-degree is punishable by:

Up to 30 years in prison

Up to 30 years of probation

Up to $10,000.00 fine.

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 806.01(2), arson is charged as felony of second degree when the fire is set on a structure or its content. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 806.031(2), a person who perpetrates any arson that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a firefighter or any other person, regardless of intent or lack of intent to cause such harm, is guilty of a felony of the second degree. Arson in the second degree is punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison or

Up to 15 years of probation and

Up to $10,000 fine.


Common Defenses to Arson

Personal property: It is lawful to burn one’s own property so long as there is no ulterior criminal motive, such as insurance fraud, revenge. Note if the fire gets out of control and result in injury to another this may still be a crime.

Accidental fire: it is a defense if setting of the fire was not intentional.

Burglary

The crime of Burglary is defined as unlawfully entering a dwelling, structure, conveyance; or remaining inside a dwelling, structure, or conveyance secretly; or remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance after permission to remain has been withdrawn with the intent to commit a crime inside. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.02), burglary can be charged in one of two ways: To prove the crime of Burglary, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant entered a structure or conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. At the time of entering the structure or conveyance, defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that [structure] [conveyance].

OR

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a structure or conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

    1. Secretly and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the [structure] [conveyance].

Structure means building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, that has a roof over it, and the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding that structure. [The enclosure need not be continuous as it may have an ungated opening for entering and exiting.]

Conveyance means motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft or sleeping car; and to enter a conveyance includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance.

Dwelling means building of any kind, whether such building is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding it. [The enclosure need not be continuous as it may have an ungated opening for entering and exiting.] For purposes of burglary, a “dwelling” includes an attached porch or attached garage.


Burglary of A Dwelling

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.011(1), dwelling means a building of any kind, whether such building is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding it. [The enclosure need not be continuous as it may have an ungated opening for entering and exiting.] For purposes of burglary, a “dwelling” includes any attached porch or attached garage.

To prove the crime of burglary of a dwelling, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a dwelling owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the dwelling, defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that dwelling.

OR

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a dwelling owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

a. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the dwelling]. Or

b. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] Or

c. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the [structure].


Punishment/Penalty for Burglary of a Dwelling

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.02(3), the crime of burglary of a dwelling is a second-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison,

Up to 15 years of probation,

Up to a $10, 000 fine.

Absent mitigating circumstance to warrant a downward departure, a judge is required by the law to imposes a minimum mandatory sentence of 21 months in prison, if convicted of this crime. It is also important to remember that 1) a person’s criminal history, 2) whether a weapon was used and 3) whether injury or death resulted from the burglary will all affect the potential punishment.

Burglary of A Structure

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.02 (4)(A), and 810.011(1), structure means building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, that has a roof over it, and the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding that structure. [The enclosure need not be continuous as it may have an ungated opening for entering and exiting.

To prove the crime of Burglary of a structure the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a structure owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the structure defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that structure.

Or

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a structure owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

    1. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the structure Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the structure. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the structure.


Burglary of An Unoccupied Structure

Burglary of an unoccupied structure is the unlawfully entering or remaining in a structure of another person after permission has been withdrawn with the intent to commit a crime inside and there is no one inside the structure at the time of the alleged burglary.

To prove the crime of Burglary of a structure the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a structure owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the structure defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that structure.

OR

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a structure owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering

    1. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the structure Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the structure. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the structure.


Punishment/Penalty for Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure

The punishment for burglary of a structure changes depending on whether the structure was occupied at the time of the crime or not. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.02(4)(a), the crime of burglary of an unoccupied structure is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison

Up to 5 years of probation,

Up to $5,000 fine.


Burglary Of An Occupied Structure

Burglary of an occupied structure is unlawfully entering or remaining in a structure of another person after permission has been withdrawn with the intent to commit a crime inside and there is someone inside the structure at the time of the alleged burglary. To prove the crime of Burglary of a structure the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a structure owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the structure defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that structure.

OR

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a structure owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

    1. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the structure Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the structure. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the structure.


Punishment/Penalty for Burglary of an Occupied Structure

The punishment for burglary of a structure changes depending on whether the structure was occupied at the time of the crime or not. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.02(3)(c), the burglary of an occupied structure is a second-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison

Up to 15 years of probation,

Up to $10,000 fine.


Burglary of A Conveyance

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.02(4)(b), burglary of a conveyance is the unlawful entering of a conveyance or remaining in a conveyance after permission to remain has been withdrawn with the intent to commit a crime inside. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 810.011(3), Conveyance” means any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car; and “to enter a conveyance” includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance.

To prove the crime of burglary of a conveyance, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the conveyance, defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that conveyance.

Or

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

    1. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the [structure] [conveyance]


Burglary of an Occupied Conveyance

Burglary of an occupied conveyance is the unlawful entering into an occupied conveyance or remining inside after permission has been withdrawn.

A conveyance is defined as any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car.

To prove the crime of burglary of a conveyance, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the conveyance, defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that conveyance.

OR

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

    1. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the [structure] [conveyance]

Penalty/Punishment for Burglary of an Occupied Conveyance

The punishment for burglary of a conveyance depends on whether the conveyance was occupied at the time of the crime or not. Under Florida law (Florida structure 810.02(3), burglary of an occupied conveyance is second degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison

Up to 15 years of probation

Up to $10,000 fine.


Burglary Of An Unoccupied Conveyance

Burglary of an unoccupied conveyance is the unlawful entering into an unoccupied conveyance or remining inside after permission has been withdrawn.

A conveyance is defined as any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car.

To prove the crime of burglary of a conveyance, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant entered a conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

2. At the time of entering the conveyance, defendant had the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] in that conveyance.

OR

  1. Defendant had permission or consent to enter a conveyance owned by or in the possession of another person.

  2. Defendant after entering:

    1. Surreptitiously and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    2. After permission to remain had been withdrawn and with the intent to commit [(the crime alleged)] [an offense other than burglary or trespass] inside the [structure] [conveyance]. Or

    3. With the intent to commit or attempt to commit a [forcible felony] [(the forcible felony alleged)] inside the [structure] [conveyance].


Penalty/Punishment for Burglary of an Unoccupied Conveyance

The punishment for burglary of a conveyance depends on whether the conveyance was occupied at the time of the crime or not. Under Florida law (Florida structure 810.02(4), burglary of an unoccupied conveyance is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison

Up to 5 years of probation

Up to $5,000 fine.


Common Defenses to Burglary

Consent/Permission is an affirmative defense to the crime burglary where someone who has access or authority gave you permission to enter or stay in the structure, dwelling, or conveyance.

Lack of intent to commit a crime: if a person shows non-criminal reasons for entering the structure, dwelling, or conveyance, such as to get out of the rain or find shelter, a person cannot be convicted of Burglary (although a conviction for Trespass may be possible).

Open to the public: a person cannot be convicted of burglary for entering into an area that is open to the public.

Bystander: simply being present with the first person is insufficient to convict the second person with burglary or trespass unless the second person consciously did some act or said some word that incited, caused, assisted, or encouraged the first person to commit the illegal act.

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