Burglary is an umbrella term that covers several different types of theft in the State of Texas. It’s a serious crime. The prosecution is alleging that you broke into a privately owned building or residence to commit a crime. In this article, we’ll discuss the crime of burglary, what the prosecution must prove, and how to defend yourself from burglary charges in Texas.
What is Burglary According to Texas Law?
The crime of burglary is defined in Tx. Stat. & Code Ann. § 30.01- 30.06.
In Texas, burglary is defined as the unlawful entry into a privately own building or residence with the intent to commit some crime. There are two elements to this. The first is that the entry into the building was unlawful. The second is that there was some intent to commit a crime.
While burglary is often associated with theft, the prosecution doesn’t need to prove that a defendant stole anything to successfully prosecute a burglary charge. They need only show that you broke into a building to commit some type of crime.
Types of Burglary
Under Texas law, there are different types of burglary. These include:
- Burglary of non-habitation building. Unlawful entry or presence inside of a building that does not have residential habitations (people don’t sleep or live there) with the intent to commit theft, assault, or any other felony is itself considered a felony under Texas law. The penalties are worse if the individual attempts to break into a rail car. Penalties include a $10,000 fine and a sentence of 6 months to 2 years in state prison.
- Burglary of a habitation. Also known as a home invasion, burglary of a habitation occurs when an individual enters or remains inside a home or apartment with the intent to commit assault or theft. If the crime they intended to commit was theft, the burglary will be charged as a second-degree felony. Any other intended crime would be a first-degree felony. Penalties include a 2- to 20year state prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. If the defendant’s intent was to commit assault (or any other crime other than theft), they can be charged with a first-degree felony which carries a sentence of anywhere from f5 years to life in prison.
- Burglary of a vehicle. Breaking into a car is also considered burglary under Texas law. The charge of burglary of a vehicle is considered a Class-A misdemeanor.
- Burglary of a vending machine. Breaking into a vending machine to steal money is considered burglary in Texas. It is charged as a Class-A misdemeanor.
Penalties will increase for repeat offenders.
Defenses to Burglary
If you were caught inside a building where you weren’t supposed to be and did not have the consent of the owner or occupier of that building, then the prosecution still has to prove that you were there for the purpose of committing some crime. This can not be a guess or based on speculation. They must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is, therefore, possible to get burglary charges reduced to criminal trespass depending on the evidence in your individual case. Merely being unlawfully inside of a building constitutes trespass. Criminal trespass is considered a Class-B misdemeanor and has a significantly more lenient sentence than any type of burglary.
Talk to a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
Burglary charges in Texas have significant penalties, but prosecutors don’t always have enough evidence to make those charges stick. The attorneys at Hoeller & McLaughlin, PLLC will force the prosecution to prove every element of their case and will not allow our clients to be overcharged for a crime. Talk to us today to learn more.