State Lawmakers looking to crack down on cross-county burglaries
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB/CAP NEWS) - Currently, prosecutors must not only prove a burglar intended to cross county lines to enhance their sentence by one degree, but they also must prove the burglar did so with the intent of making it harder for law enforcement to track the stolen items.
“What burglar do you know goes up to the police and says, hey by the way, this is stolen?”
State Senator Gayle Harrell’s legislation would lower the burden of proof necessary to apply a stiffer sentence, requiring prosecutors only to prove county lines were crossed intentionally.
“So that this statute that was put in place in 2014 can be enforced.”
“Harrell said that in some counties like Martin and Pasco, more than 40% of burglaries are committed by people who traveled across county lines.”
Criminal justice advocates argued in the bill’s first committee hearing imaginary lines shouldn’t dictate the severity of a crime.
“Burglary should carry the same sentence no matter where it occurs.”
But Committee Chair Senator Jason Pizzo noted the law isn’t aimed at unsophisticated criminals.
“We can do things that result in people going, I had no idea that was the case. This is not to trap unsophisticated individuals. This is for people who are organizing, planning, and scheming.”
Notably absent from the bill’s first committee hearing were criminal defense attorneys.
It was a point highlighted by the chair, who suggested even if this change passes, proving a burglar intentionally crossed county lines will still be an incredibly difficult task.
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