Burglary of a Motor Vehicle

One of the most common cases of theft is breaking into a locked or unlocked motor vehicle. While the crime is common, that doesn’t mean Texas is kind to those convicted of burglary of a vehicle. A conviction for burglarizing a motor vehicle can result in serious fines and even time behind bars with a minimum of six months in jail. With such heavy penalties, it’s important you understand the full scope of the crime and how you can fight the charges.

If you have been charged with burglarizing a motor vehicle, then we highly suggest you get in contact with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Burglary of any kind is serious, so having legal representation you can trust is vital before going to court. A skilled and experienced Houston burglary defense lawyer can assess your charges and formulate an effective plan to fight your charges.

Burglary Defense Attorney in Houston, Texas

Theft is one of the most common offenses a person can be charged with. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your charges seriously. Burglarizing any person or property, including motor vehicles, is a serious crime with harsh penalties. That is why we highly suggest you obtain trusted legal representation immediately with The Benken Law Firm before you speak a word to authorities.

Attorney Brian Benken of The Benken Law Firm has been practicing criminal defense for years. His effective and efficient methods have helped hundreds of his clients escape severe penalties. Using his experience, resources and skills, Brian Benken will do whatever he can to get you the best possible result for your case. Call The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051 and you can set up your first consultation to discuss your case free. Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm practices law throughout all communities in Harris County and the greater Houston area including Greenspoint, Westchase, Meyerland, and Magnolia Park.

Overview of Burglary of a Vehicle in Texas

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What Is the Charge for Burglary of a Vehicle in Texas?

To be convicted of burglary of a vehicle, the prosecution must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt to the court. These elements can be found under the Texas Penal Code Section 30.04, which state the following:

  • A person commits burglary of a vehicle if, without consent from the owner, they break into or enter a vehicle or any part of a vehicle; and
  • Have intent to commit any felony or theft offense

The statute does explicitly state that for the purposes of this section, a container or trailer carried on a rail car is a part of the vehicle. So, burglarizing a container or trailer to a rail car will also result in theft charges.

This crime is classified as a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. It’s important to note that this crime also has a minimum jail term of at least six months if you have a prior conviction for burglary of a vehicle.

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Is Burglary of a Vehicle a Felony in Texas?

In certain circumstances, yes burglary can be considered a felony in the state of Texas. The crime can be enhanced to a state jail felony if:

  • You have two or more previous convictions for burglary of a vehicle; or
  • The vehicle or part of the vehicle was broken into or entered is a rail car;

The penalties for a state jail felony include:

  • Up to 2 years in a state jail; and a
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

Burglary of a vehicle can be enhanced even further if the following occurred during the crime:

  • The vehicle that was broken into is owned or operated by a wholesale distributor of prescription drugs; and
  • You break into the vehicle with the intent to steal a controlled substance

A third-degree felony has especially grievous penalties, which includes prison time. If convicted, you should expect up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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What Are the Penalties for Joyriding in Texas?

Another crime related to burglary of a vehicle is unauthorized use of a vehicle, also commonly referred to as joyriding. Joyriding differs from burglarizing a vehicle because the offender returns the automobile after a period. However, that doesn’t mean joyriders don’t face any criminal penalties. Using another person’s car, boat, airplane or motor-propelled vehicle without their effective consent is still a crime in the state of Texas.

If you’re convicted of unauthorized use of a vehicle, you could face a state jail felony. The consequences for a state jail felony include:

  • Up to 2 years in a state jail; and a
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

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Additional Resources

Citizen’s Guide to the Texas Criminal Process – Visit the State Bar of Texas to read their handbook for citizens regarding Texas criminal procedures provided by, Criminal Justice Division. Here you can find information regarding offense classifications, the appeals process, court proceedings, the differences adult and juvenile court, and glossary for legal terms.

Theft Laws in Texas – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code, which is a collection of statutes related to criminal offenses. Find more information regarding burglary as well as criminal trespass offenses in Texas. Learn the charges elements, penalties, and possible admissible defenses to use in court.

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Houston Defense Lawyer for Burglary of a Vehicle in TX

Allegations of theft are nothing to take lightly in Texas considering the steep penalties. If you’ve been charged with burglarizing a motor vehicle, then get in contact with The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken has an in-depth knowledge of theft laws in Texas as well as years of practice under his belt. Get in contact with him for a free case review to see what your legal options are.

Set up your first consultation by calling (713) 223 - 4051. From there, we will schedule your appointment where Brian Benken can dissect your case in further detail. The Benken Law Firm defends those accused of property offenses throughout all parts of Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas such as Houston, Baytown, Katy, Missouri City, Bellaire, El Lago, Nassau Bay, and Pasadena.

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(713) 223 - 4051
Benken Law