Burglary covers several different kinds of theft under Texas law. In this post, we’ll detail the types of burglary, their penalties, and how you can get help if you are facing charges.
Burglary as Defined by Texas Statute
All burglary convictions in Texas will depend on this fact: an individual entered a private building, structure, or habitation with intent to commit a crime within, but without consent of the owner. The crime could be assault, theft, or other felonies.
Unlawful entry and intent to commit a crime are essential pieces in a burglary case. Even if the intended crime was not carried out, an individual can face burglary charges. A conviction may occur if the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that both elements of the burglary charges are true.
Different Actions That Constitute Burglary in Texas
Texas law criminalizes several different types of burglary, including the following:
Burglary of a Non-Habitation Building
If an individual unlawfully enters or remains inside a private or public building that is not a habitation with the intent to commit assault, theft, or a felony, they can be charged with a state jail felony under Tx. Stat. & Code Ann. § 30.02(c).
If an individual breaks into a rail car, penalties can be enhanced.
Burglary of a Habitation
Also known as home invasion, this crime occurs when an individual enters or remains within a habitation with intent to commit felony theft or assault inside. Some states have this as a separate charge, but in Texas the burglary of any building is charged as “burglary.”
A conviction for this act will result in a second degree felony. If the individual entered the habitation with intent to commit a felony besides felony theft, the charges will be raised to a first degree felony.
Burglary of a Vehicle
If an individual breaks into or remains inside a vehicle with the intent to commit theft, assault, or another felony within, the charge will be a class A misdemeanor. Charges can apply if any body part or object (such as a coat hanger) is inserted in the vehicle to gain entry.
If the vehicle is intended for overnight accommodations, such as a recreational vehicle, the charge will be changed to burglary of a habitation with the associated penalties.
Burglary of a Coin-Operated Machine or Coin-Collection Machine
If an individual breaks into one of these machines without consent of the owner, he or she could face a Class A misdemeanor charge.
Specific Examples of Burglary in Texas
Here are examples of situations where burglary charges may apply.
- Staying past your permitted time in a private or public building with intent to commit assault inside
- Hiding inside a retail store after hours to commit theft
- Entering a rail car to commit theft
- Breaking into a coin collection machine to steal money
- Using a coat hanger to unlock a car door so you can steal a purse
- Entering a recreational vehicle to assault someone inside
If you are facing charges for any scenarios described above (or others), it’s essential to contact an experienced Texas criminal attorney who can help you fight your charges and work to get them reduced or dropped.
Penalties for a Texas Burglary Conviction
If you are convicted for burglary in Texas, you will face steep fines and incarceration. Here is what you can expect.
If the act of burglary was committed in a building that is not a habitation, the charge is a state jail felony. The penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of six months to two years in a state jail facility.
If the act of burglary was committed in a building that is a habitation, the charge is a second degree felony. The penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of 2-20 years in a state prison.
If the act of burglary was committed in a building that is a habitation and the individual intended to commit a felony other than felony theft, the charge is a first degree felony. The penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of five years to life in a state prison.
Get Help for Texas Burglary Charges
Penalties increase for second and subsequent similar offenses. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer if you are facing charges like these.
A skilled Texas attorney will help you form a solid defense so that you can fight to attain the best possible outcome. Call today for a free case review and learn how a good criminal lawyer can help you beat your charges.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.