When most people think of the crime of burglary, they think it involves someone breaking into a home or other building and stealing something that is inside. In fact, in Florida the crime of burglary is much broader than that. First, it can involve just about any building, including vacant buildings, and it can also involve other structures like a car or a boat.
Next, a person does not have to steal something inside the conveyance to be guilty of burglary. If a person enters the conveyance with the intent to commit any number of crimes, that can be a burglary. Finally, it is not even necessary for the perpetrator to enter the structure. Putting a hand through a window can be sufficient for a burglary conviction.
In a recent burglary case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the defendants planned to burglarize a home and walked onto the porch in front of the home. They tried to get into the home, but they could not find a way in. Someone saw them and called the police. They were arrested as they were leaving the home and ultimately charged with burglary of a dwelling.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the burglary charge arguing that the defendants did not enter any part of the home and never made it past the front porch. This area was not enclosed or covered by the roof so it was not part of the dwelling. The court denied the motion finding that the porch attached to the house is part of the dwelling. The court noted that simply going onto someone’s yard would not likely constitute burglary, but in this case, the porch was attached to the house and raised from the yard so it was clearly something different. There was also an overhang from the roof that covered most of the porch. Finally, the court noted that there was a door to the house adjacent to the porch and the homeowner kept some personal items on the porch.
There is no black and white rule as to what constitutes a burglary when a defendant does not enter a home but does walk onto the property and comes near the actual building. Surely, entering an enclosed space will likely be considered a burglary, and the closer one gets to the house, the more likely it will be a burglary. However, it will depend on the circumstances of a particular case. Going onto a porch adjacent to a house that is different from the yard is likely to be a burglary, as it was in this case.