Posted On: May 14, 2011 by Shorstein & Lasnetski

Is it Burglary to Steal Items From a Person's Yard in Florida?

In Florida, burglary is a very serious crime that can result in a significant prison sentence. Ordinarily, burglarizing a person's home or dwelling is considered more serious than burglarizing a vehicle or a business. Most people understand burglary to include a situation where a person breaks into another's home with the intent to steal something or commit another crime inside. Is it also a burglary of a dwelling to steal something from another's yard?

In Florida, burglary of a dwelling is not limited to the victim's actual residential structure. It also includes the curtilage of the residence. What does curtilage mean? That term is not specifically defined in the Florida criminal statutes. However, prior criminal cases in Florida have indicated that the curtilage includes some form of enclosed area near the residence. Most likely, an enclosed shed or outhouse of some sort in the yard near the house would be included in the curtilage. However, the same structure on the property but far away from the house may not be within the curtilage of the home. The backyard of a residence would likely be within the curtilage of the home if it was enclosed by a fence. However, if a person walked onto another's property and stole some items laying in the yard which was not fully enclosed by a fence, that would not be burglary of a dwelling.

Whether a crime involving property outside of one's home is a burglary to a dwelling depends on the circumstances of the property and the theft. However, generally, if the suspect breaches any sort of enclosure on or near the residence with the intent to commit a theft or other crime, it is likely to be a burglary of a dwelling.