Palm Beach Teens Accused of Burgling Vehicles
Authorities say they have broken up a burglary ring targeting high-end vehicles. The three teens who are implicated in the burglaries all face enhanced penalties for committing the crimes while Florida is in a state of quarantine.
One defendant, who is 18 years old so his name is allowed to be printed in the paper, will face two counts of burglary to a vehicle during a state of emergency, one count of grand theft during an emergency, and two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The report names two other defendants each of whom was 17 years of age and suggests that there is enough evidence to charge them with the crimes as well.
The group is charged with breaking into at least 15 vehicles.
What the Enhancements Mean for the Defendants
If the police can prove that the defendants exploited the state of emergency to conduct the burglaries, the teens can be charged with penalty enhancements that will move the charges one degree up.
For instance, if they were charged with a third-degree felony, they can be charged with a second-degree felony simply because they exploited the lockdown to conduct the burglaries. While that may not seem like a lot, the difference between a second- and third-degree felonies is ten years in terms of sentencing. Third-degree felonies have 5-year maximum prison sentences while second-degree felonies have 15-year maximum prison sentence.
The eldest defendant was charged with several felonies including burglar, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and grand theft. Grand theft can be charged at minimum as a third-degree felony, but the enhancement will move it up to a second-degree felony (15 years). Similarly, burglary can be charged as a first-, second-, or third-degree felony depending on whether or not weapons were used. This teen will be facing two counts of enhanced burglary (30 years) at the very minimum.
Aggravated battery is generally prosecuted as a second-degree felony, but when a deadly weapon is involved in the burglary, the charges escalate and judges are required to impose mandatory minimums of 10 years. But since the felony occurred during a state of emergency, it can be charged as a first-degree felony with a maximum prison term of 30 years.
Adding it all up, this defendant is facing 75 years behind bars depending on how the prosecution wants to charge him. Without the coronavirus enhancements, he is only facing a maximum of 30 years but is unlikely to serve anywhere near that amount.
Of these, the aggravated battery charge with a deadly weapon is the worst and may incur a mandatory minimum of anywhere from 10 to 20 years depending on the type of weapon used.
Talk to a Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a serious crime in the West Palm Beach area, then you need a top criminal defense attorney who can protect you from overzealous prosecution. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.