Burglary & Theft

CLEARWATER CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
BURGLARY, GRAND THEFT & ROBBERY

Robert Hambrick Photo 1If you have been charged with burglary in Pinellas or Hillsborough County, criminal law expert Robert Hambrick will do his best to help you find the best possible solution. Burglary and Grand Thefts are felonies in Florida, meaning that prison terms can include a number of years up to life in prison, depending on the surrounding facts.

These cases are often charged together by Tampa Bay law enforcement as seperate counts of the same information, an information is a charging document in Florida when a grand jury is not used to present an indictment. A criminal defense lawyer in Clearwater will try to avert the Court from assessing a sentence which may include significant incarceration and additional criminal penalties of house arrest, restitution to the victim, fines, community service or probation. As a former prosecutor, Robert Hambrick understands the potential weaknesses of burglary prosecutions, how to defend against them and how to place you or a loved one in the best position possible to move forward with your life.

THE BEST CRIMINAL LAW DEFENSES FOR BURGLARY CASES:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn burglary cases in Tampa Bay and Pinellas there are defenses which a Clearwater Crime of Burglary Lawyer may find after an investigation of the facts and circumstances of your case. To uncover these defenses it’s important for the defense to find all of the available witnesses and evidence as soon as possible.

  1. There’s a defense where there’s no actual entry into the dwelling for the purpose of violating a law. For example, the bug exterminator at an apartment building enters an apartment without the permission of the owner but with the purpose of extermination, but if while there he happens upon the Picasso painting and believing the painting deserves a better home takes it – his change of intent becomes criminal and he will be charged with burglary and grand theft.
  2. There’s also the defense of consent. For example, where there’s been a relationship between a couple, a breakup and there’s a question as to who has ownership interest in the dwelling such as when both names of the victim and the defendant are on the lease or mortgage documents and there has never been a trespass warning to the defendant.

810.02 Burglary in Florida (1)(a) “burglary” means: 1. Entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter; or 2. Notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry, remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance: a. Surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense therein; b. After permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein; or c. To commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony, as defined. (2) Burglary is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment or as provided, if, in the course of committing the offense, the offender: (a) Makes an assault or battery upon any person; or (b) Is or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, with explosives or a dangerous weapon; or (c) Enters an occupied or unoccupied dwelling or structure, and: 1. Uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense, and thereby damages the dwelling or structure; or 2. Causes damage to the dwelling or structure, or to property within the dwelling or structure in excess of $1,000. (3) Burglary is a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided if, in the course of committing the offense, the offender does not make an assault or battery and is not and does not become armed with a dangerous weapon or explosive.

THE BEST DEFENSES FOR THEFT CASES:

Courtroom South 1In theft cases in Tampa Bay and Pinellas there typically are two defenses which a Clearwater assualt & battery lawyer may find after an investigation of the facts and circumstances of your case. To uncover these defenses it’s important for the defense to find all of the available witnesses and evidence as soon as possible.

  1. There’s a defense that the defendant had some ownership interest in the property. For example, where the victim and defendant were once married or in a romantic relationship the actual ownership of the property becomes an issue.
  2. There’s the factual defense that the defendant did not in fact take any property from the victim.

812.014 Theft. (1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently: (a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property. (b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property. (2)(a)1. If the property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more or is a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer; or 2. If the property stolen is cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; or 3. If the offender commits any grand theft and: a. In the course of committing the offense the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another; or b. In the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000, the offender commits grand theft in the first degree, punishable as a felony of the first degree, as provided. (b)1. If the property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000;

THE BEST DEFENSES FOR ROBBERY CASES:

A Robbery is defined by Florida Law as the taking of the property of another person thru the “use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.” Sec. 812.13 Florida Statutes. And it’s important if you or a loved one has been charged to have the best defense which a Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer can provide.

Therefore each of the categories of robbery arise out of the following facts:

  1. The specific type of force is used during the course of the alleged robbery. Even a parking lot purse snatching is a robbery if any force is used to take the purse away. The less force that is used incident to the alleged robbery the more likely it will not be legally sufficient as a robbery in Tampa Bay.
  2. The quality and the type of weapon used during the robbery. The greater the actual threat value of a perceived weapon, the greater the potential punishment for a robbery.
  3. The type of assault or threat that was used during the robbery. The more significant the reality of the peceived threat by the victim is the more likely it is that an appeals court will not over turn a conviction for robbery.
  4. The victim being place in fear at the time of the robbery. The element of fear is a tough one to prove, because the court cannot rely upon whether or not the victim was “actually” placed in fear, but rather whether or not a reasonable person would have been in fear. And, not just any fear, this fear has to be a fear of death or great bodily harm. For example, in one case a defendant was arrested for robbery for merely taking money from the cash register while at a McDonald’s drive-thru window, when the employee’s back was turned. Fine v. State, 758 So.2d 1246 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000). The appeals court overturned the conviction in Fine because the McDonald’s employee was never placed in actual fear. Yet in a Tampa Bay case in Schram v. State, 614 So.2d 646 (Fla. 2d DCA 1993), the Defendant while at a convenience store said he was taking some beer as the clerk saw a bulge in the defendant’s back pocket which he assumed was a knife (buleges in pants are strange things). The Court reversed the robbery conviction after making a finding that it was not reasonable to have fear of great bodily harm under these facts because there could have been something other than a knife under the pants (ask Mae West). Yet if the situation is such that a reasonable person would be afraid such as at a bank, words alone without a weapon could place someone in fear, as in a robbery where a teller is handed a note saying – this is a holdup!

In Robbery cases in Tampa Bay and Pinellas there typically are two defenses which a Clearwater Robbery Lawyer may find after an investigation of the facts and circumstances of your case. To uncover these defenses it’s important for the defense to find all of the available witnesses and evidence as soon as possible.

  1. There’s a defense where there’s no real fear of imminent harm. For example, someone threatens another by saying that he’ll cast a spell upon another person unless property is given. There’s no real threat of imminent harm so the charge has no merit.
  2. There’s also the conditional threat defense. For example, where a bank robber suggests that if no money is given to him he’ll blow the bank up in six months.

812.13 Robbery.— (1) “Robbery” means the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear. (2)(a) If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment (b) If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided (c) If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried no firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided (3)(a) An act shall be deemed “in the course of committing the robbery” if it occurs in an attempt to commit robbery or in flight after the attempt or commission. (b) An act shall be deemed “in the course of the taking” if it occurs either prior to, contemporaneous with, or subsequent to the taking of the property and if it and the act of taking constitute a continuous series of acts or events.

If you have been charged with armed robbery in Pinellas county, you simply cannot afford to be without legal representation. Unlike other types of theft crimes, armed robbery is automatically considered a serious criminal offense because people who commit this crime are using a weapon. Any time a weapon is involved during the commission of a crime, the offender will be subjected to enhanced charges and legal penalties if the defendant is convicted. For defense an example of defense of a lower guideline range in a complex Theft case see: Objections to Federal Guideline Range in Complex Theft Case where loss amount is $120,000 to $200,000

BURGLARY & GRAND THEFT COUNTS HAVE LESSOR INCLUDED CHARGES EMBEDDED WITHIN:

  1. All felony Burglary criminal charges have the lessOr included charge of trespass embedded within, which is known as a lesser included charge. Because every burglary charge must first meet the criteria for simple trespass. The difference is determined by whether there was an intent to do any criminal conduct upon gaining entry into the dwelling.
  2. All Grand Theft criminal charges have the lesser included charge of simple theft embedded as a lesser included charge. Because every Grand Theft charge must first meet the criteria for simple theft. The difference is defined either by the type of object taken or by the value of the object.

This means that even if the Pinellas or Tampa Prosecutor makes a determinaltion that the charge must be filed in the higher aggravated form, it’s still possible at a later time for the charge to be reduced incident to a plea or by legal motion to the presiding Pinellas Circuit Court Judge if the facts do not support the aggravated form or if the charge is taken to Trial the jury will be told in its jury instructions that it may come back with the lesser included offense.

HOW ASSAULT & BURGLARY, GRAND THEFT AND ROBBERY CASES PROCEED THRU THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN PINELLAS & HILLSBOROUGH COUNTIES:

courtroomwoodsunlitTiming is crucial for the criminal defense of these crimes, if you hire Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Hambrick his goal will be to intervene with the prosecutors before formal charges are filed resulting in having the burglary or theft charges reduced to misdeamenors, dismissed completely or nolle prossed by the State Attorney’s Office. In Tampa Bay & PInellas this is how your Burglary, Grand Theft and Robbery case will be handled by the criminal justice system.

  1. In the Tampa Bay and Pinellas Burglary, Grand Theft and Robbery cases are typically investigated by Tampa Bay law enforcement after an allegation of harm from the victim that his home, vehicle, boat or office has been broken into resulting in either a trespass or a felony burglary or law enforcement is alerted that there has been an unlawful taking of property from the victim resulting in either a theft or a grand theft and if done with force resulting in a robbery. (See below for complete definitions of each crime and for possible defenses.) If there is sufficient probable cause for Tampa Bay law enforcement to believe that an assault or battery has taken place in Tampa Bay or Pinellas an arrest is made if not then the case is moved forward for an arrest warrant.
  2. Law Enforcement Officers bring the Burglary, Grand Theft and Robbery case to the attention of the Pinellas or Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office for review . This is a crucial point within the framework of the chain of events leading to criminal prosecution. By Florida law the prosecutor assigned to the case must take oral testimony before the State Attorney’s Office will formally file felony criminal charges. Testimony from Tampa Bay officers or deputies as to the facts and circumstances of the case will be sufficient to move the case forward if the victim is unavailable to testify.

When facing burglary, theft and robbery charges, it is in your best interest to consult with a violent crimes defense lawyer who has prior armed robbery case experience as soon as possible, so you will have the greatest chance of avoiding a conviction and not be subjected to bias for years to come by employers, neighbors and even friends and family members.

You only have a certain amount of time to put a strategy for your defense in place, as the legal process starts quickly after your arrest. Contact Robert Hambrick a criminal defense lawyer in Clearwater whose office is only two blocks from your courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center to discuss your charges and how we can protect your rights and freedom.