There are nearly 34,000 inmates in the Texas prison system for burglary, making it the most popular crime in the state. Since the offense has elements of criminal trespass, its treated more severely than typical theft and has the potential to be charged as a felony.

Most people assume burglary is the illegal entry of a home for the purpose of theft, but there is more to it than that. It’s not required that you take something from the structure you burglarize. Simply attempting to commit theft is enough to be charged.

Harris County Burglary Attorney

The sooner you contact legal representation, the better your chances of a more favorable outcome in the courtroom. Brian Benken is a licensed private investigator that will use his experience to keep you out of jail. He also has over 30 years of trial experience making him a trusted advocated in the courtroom.

Take the first step in building your defense and contact the Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken takes pride in providing his clients with quality legal services. He will work diligently on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.

To schedule a time to speak with Brian Benken more about your case, call (713) 223 - 4051 or submit your information in the online contact form. The Benken Law Firm defends clients in all communities in Harris County and surrounding counties. 

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What is Considered Burglary in Texas?

There is more to burglary than criminal trespass. For starters, you have to enter the habitation or building with the intention of committing a felony, theft or an assault. It doesn’t matter if the structure was open to the public or not, you could still be charged with the crime. You can also commit the crime if you remain hidden within the building with the intention to commit any of the mentioned crimes.

If any part of your body or any object being held by your body enters a building or habitation, you could still be charged with the crime. For example, you put your hand through an open window and steal money sitting on a table. Even though your entire body didn’t enter the structure, you could still face burglary charges under Texas Penal Code section 30.02.

A habitation is considered a structure that is made for overnight accommodations for people such as a home or vehicle. A building, on the other hand, is any enclosed structure that is used for another purpose besides habitation. This can include a grocery store, storage unit or bank.

What’s the difference between theft and burglary?

Theft occurs when an individual unlawfully takes another person’s property. While the term “theft” can be applied when goods or money are stolen, “theft” can also be applied in situations involving the absence of services or writing bad checks.

In contrast, burglary specifically occurs when an individual enters a habitation or building to commit a theft or assault. Since burglary involves criminal trespass, it’s treated more severely than theft.

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How is Burglary Charged?

How you are charged for burglary will depend on the structure you broke into. For instance, if you broke into any other building beside a habitation, you will be charged with a state jail felony. This may be the lowest level felony offense, but you could still face penalties that include:

  • No less than 180 days but no more than two years in state jail
  • A fine that can cost up to $10,000

When you break into a home or any other structure that is considered a habitation, you will face a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony can land you in prison for up to 20 years and require you to pay a fine that can cost up to $10,000.

Burglarizing certain building can result in you being charged with a third-degree felony. These buildings include those used for storing controlled substance such as:

  • A pharmacy
  • Clinic
  • Hospital
  • Nursing facility
  • Or warehouse

A third-degree felony is punishable by 10 to two years imprisonment and a fine that can cost up to $10,000.

If you have more than one person help you burglarize a habitation, you will be charged with a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is one of the state’s most serious charges behind capital felony. Being charged with a first-degree felony can land you in prion for no less than five years, but up to 99 years of life. You will also be required to pay a fine that can cost up to $10,000.

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Burglary of a Vehicle

Breaking into a vehicle may not seem as serious as breaking into someone’s home, but the state of Texas thinks otherwise. To be charged with burglary of a vehicle, you have to break into or enter any part of a vehicle with the intention of committing a felony or theft.

You don’t need to physically break into the vehicle to be charged with the offense. Something as simple as jumping into the cab of a pickup truck and stealing a cooler is enough to be charged with the crime.

The first time you are charged with burglary of a vehicle, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine that can cost up to $4,000 or a combination of both. A second conviction of the crime is also a Class A misdemeanor, but you will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail.

Burglarizing a vehicle is charged as a state jail felony if you have been convicted of the crime more than twice, or the vehicle you entered was a rail car. The crime has the potential to charged as a third-degree felony if you broke into the vehicle to steal drugs. This can include breaking into or entering a vehicle operated by a wholesale distributor of prescription drugs, or a standard vehicle to steal a controlled substance.

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Burglary of Coin-Operated Machines

Texas law also penalizes the burglary coin-operated or coin-collection machines. According to Texas Penal Code Sec. 30.03., a person violates this specific burglary statute offense if, without the effective consent of the owner and with intent to obtain property or services., he breaks or enters into any:

  • Coin-operated machine
  • Coin collection machine
  • Coin-operated or coin collection receptacle, contrivance, apparatus, or equipment used for the purpose of providing lawful amusement, sales of goods, services, or other valuable things, or telecommunications

An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by six months to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

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Additional Resources

Burglary | Texas Penal Code – Follow this link to read the full text of the state statute that governs burglary. You can read the precise legal definition of the crime and learn about crimes such as criminal trespass and burglary of a coin machine. The statute can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.

Punishments | Texas Penal Code– Knowing how criminal offenses are punished is important, especially if you are facing criminal charges. Follow this link to find how every criminal offense in Texas is penalized. You can also learn penalties for habitual felons and crimes committed for bias or prejudice.

Texas Burglary Unit — Access the official website of the City of Austin’s Police Department (APD) to find more information about their Burglary Unit. The Austin Police Department’s Burglary Unit investigates crimes against property.

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Houston Burglary Attorney | Harris County, TX

The legal system can be overwhelming. Let Brian Benken be with you every step of the way. He will take the time to listen to your story, and find the best legal options available for your situation. With over 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer, Brian Benken knows what is necessary to defend you and your liberty. Take the first step in building your defense and contact the Benken Law Firm.

The Benken Law Firm defends clients of burglary charges in all communities in Harris County and surrounding counties. Some of these communities include Houston, Tomball, Spring, Hunters Creek Village, River Oaks and many more. To schedule a time to speak with Brian Benken, call (713) 223 - 4051 or submit your information in the online contact form.

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