Alleged Burglar Faced an Alligator – Not a Florida Court
A 22 year old man suspected of burglary has been found dead some time after his alleged crimes in Palm Bay Florida in mid November. His name was Matthew Riggins. He went missing after law enforcement tried to track him down when he was observed trying to break in to homes near a pond.
Investigators who were pursuing the incident reported that Riggins phoned his girlfriend to tell her his intentions to break and enter homes that evening. At the time, neighbors saw 2 men in black clothing behind homes in the area. Their observations led to police conducting a search in the area, including the use of a helicopter and K-9 units.
While the search was underway, Riggins again called his girlfriend to tell her he was going to find some place to hide as the police were pursuing him and his alleged accomplice. It seems he did not know the area too well as he sought refuge in a pond frequented by alligators that are not particularly friendly when their territory is invaded.
When deputies couldn’t find Riggins they retreated and it wasn’t until a day or so later that Riggins’s family alerted police that he had not returned home. The mystery of his disappearance was not solved until his body was found floating in the pond some 10 days later. The team of BCSO divers saw the giant alligator while recovering Riggins’ body and it was subsequently killed by an FWC trapper. An examination of the 11 foot gator’s stomach contents revealed the remains of Riggins.
The other suspect in the alleged burglary spree accompanying Riggins has failed to co-operate with investigators so has not been charged yet.
Riggins has paid the maximum penalty for his intention to commit burglary in other people’s homes and this was far more severe than any penalty enforced by the wheels of justice in Florida.
In Florida criminal law however, burglary of an unoccupied structure is a felony in the 3rd degree, as is possessing of tools to help break into a building to commit burglary. Cutting a power or phone line is treated in a similar way. Third degree felonies can incur a penalty of 5 years in a Florida prison and a fine of $5,000 plus court costs. Burglary that is classified as a home invasion such as burglary of a dwelling is a 2nddegree felony and the penalty is harsher than for burglary of an unoccupied building. Whether the home is occupied or not makes a big difference in the way the law and the prosecutors and judges treat the case. This could result in 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Violent and armed burglaries are first degree felonies which could incur life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine plus court costs which are unlikely to ever be recovered since you will be locked up forever.
In Riggins’ case there is no indication whether he and his alleged accomplice were armed so had he been caught before the alligator attack his potential criminal charges are unknown. However, if you are caught allegedly in the act of burglary you are advised to hire the services of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney who will ensure the prosecution gets the circumstances correct before a conviction which could result in the above harsh penalties is handed down.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.