Burglary Laws in Texas
According to statistics released by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, in 2013 there were 1,693 burglaries reported to the Patrol Services Division. Burglary is set out in Title 7, Chapter 30 of the Texas Penal Code as an offense against property. The statutory scheme imposes different penalties and punishments for the crime of burglary depending on whether it was committed in a coin-operated machine, rail car, vehicle, building or habitation.
Penalties for burglary can range from a Class A misdemeanor, state jail felony, second degree felony to the most serious charge of burglary as a first degree felony. Important defenses exist to fight an allegation of burglary. In many of these cases, the lesser included charge of trespass is the more appropriate charge because there was no intent to commit a felony, theft or assault after entering.
If you were arrested for the criminal offense of burglary in San Antonio, Bexar County, or the surrounding areas throughout the State of Texas, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the law firm of [$firm]. Our attorneys are experienced in fighting serious felony offenses including burglary and robbery charges throughout the state.
Different Types of Burglaries
The most common types of burglaries include the burglary of a habitation, building or vehicle. Under Section 30.01(1) the term habitation is defined to mean a “structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons.” The definition includes both “separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle” and any “structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.”
Under Section 30.01(2) the term building is defined as “any enclosed structure intended for use or occupation as a habitation or for some purpose of trade, manufacture, ornament, or use.”
Under Section 30.01(3) the term vehicle is defined as any device by which a person or property can be moved in the normal course of commerce or transpiration, although it does not include any devise that is classified as a “habitation.”
Elements of a Burglary under Texas Law
The elements of burglary can include the same elements required for the lesser included offense of criminal trespass. Section 30.02 provides the following elements for the criminal offense of burglary:
1. the person enters a habitation or building not then open to the public
2. with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault;
2. without the effective consent of the owner.
Alternatively, it can be alleged that the person entered the building or habitation and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault. The burglary statute allows provides that a person can be charged with burglary after the person remaining hidden or concealed in the building or habitation, with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault therein.
The statute provides that the term “enter” means to intrude any part of the body or any physical object connected with the body.
Penalties for Burglary Crimes in Texas
The penalties for burglary depend on a host of factors including whether the crime was committed in a vehicle, building or habitation.
- State Jail Felony – burglary can be charged as a state jail felony if the crime is committed in a building other than a habitation;
- Second Degree Felony – burglary can be charged as a felony in the second degree if the crime is committed in a habitation;
- First Degree Felony – burglary can be charged as a felony of the first degree if the crime is committed in a habitation and the entry was with the intent to commit a felony other than felony theft.
Burglary of a Vehicle
Under Section 30.03, entering or breaking into a vehicle, without the effective consent of the owner is a Class A misdemeanor.
A minimum mandatory jail sentence of six (6) months is required if the person has been previously been convicted for burglary of a vehicle.
If the person has been convicted two or more times of burglary of a vehicle then the crime is elevated to a state jail felony.
A “prior conviction” for purposes of the sentence enhancement would include an adjudication of guilt or any deferred adjudication even if the sentence was never imposed, probated, or the defendant was discharged from community supervision.
Burglary of a Coin-Operated Machine
Under Section 30.03, entering or breaking into a coin collection machine or coin-operated machine, without the effective consent of the owner is a Class A misdemeanor.
Burglary of a Rail Car
The penalties for the crime of burglary are also elevated to a state jail felony if the crime occurred in a rail car. Section 30.05(e) provides a defense if the person who entered the rail car was an employee or representative of employees exercising a right under the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.).
Finding an Attorney for Burglary in San Antonio, TX
If you were charged with any form of burglary in San Antonio, Bexar County, or throughout the State of Texas, then contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Goldstein & Orr. Our attorneys are experienced in fighting serious felony charges, including burglary, throughout the State of Texas. Call us to discuss your case and possible defenses to the charges.