Court Reverses Bike Burglary Conviction, Says Defendant Charged With Wrong Crime – Colbert v. State

A person charged with a crime in Florida is well advised to seek the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney, not only to help the person understand the charges against him, but also to defend the case. There are a number of legal defenses available in many cases, and intricate knowledge of the relevant law – including the elements the prosecution must prove in order to get a conviction – can mean all the difference. In Colbert v. State, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction of a man caught stealing a bicycle, finding that the State charged him with the wrong crime.

Harley Colbert was arrested and charged with burglary of a dwelling for allegedly stealing a bicycle that was parked on a concrete pad outside a two story townhouse. The bike’s owner saw Colbert walking away from the house with the bicycle and detained him until the police arrived. After he was convicted, Colbert filed an appeal arguing that he should not have been charged with burglary of a dwelling because the bike was outside of the house at the time of the crime.

Colbert was charged under Florida Statutes Section 810.011, which defines a dwelling as “a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch…which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the curtilage thereof.”

In this case, the concrete pad on which the bicycle was located began at the townhouse’s front door and extended to a walkway in front of the house. The exterior wall of the house’s garage was on one side and a bed of mulch on the other. A second floor balcony, which was not supported by posts or the like, partially covered the pad.

The Court found that the pad did not qualify as an “attached porch” because it did not carry with it the notions of privacy and security expected in a dwelling. “This area, which was both visually and physically open to the general public, is not a logical extension of one’s dwelling in a way that comports with the concept of an ‘attached porch,’” the Court ruled. Unlike other structures – carports and covered, backyard cement slabs, for example – the Court noted that the concrete pad was in the front of the house and was not so enclosed as to indicate that it was an extension of the home. Rather, the pad was was open to passersby such as mailmen, salespersons and others, according to the court.

As a result, the court reversed the conviction.

The crime of burglary is a felony offense. There are different degrees of burglary depending on the circumstances of the crime, which can result in large fines and imprisonment. A burglary charge is a serious felony and a conviction can significantly hinder your future employment opportunities, reputation and future. For legal assistance regarding a burglary charge, contact the South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine. The attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are dedicated to providing clients with aggressive, competent and high-quality representation.

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Court in Burglary Case Disapproves Evidence of Defendant’s Previous Crimes – Nshaka v. State

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