Texas law classifies burglary crimes into several different degrees, each with different levels of punishment. Burglary is a common charge leveled by prosecutors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so it’s important to understand this crime and what it really means.
How Texas Defines Burglary
While most people think of burglary as a theft crime, you can be charged with burglary even if there’s no stolen property involved. What matters is your intent. The prosecutor will be trying to prove that you had a certain goal in mind when entering a building.
The legal definition of burglary is found in chapter 7, section 30.02 of the Texas Penal Code. It says burglary is committed when you, without consent of the property owner, do any of the following:
- Enter a habitation or building with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assaultRemain concealed inside a habitation or building with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault
- Enter a habitation or building and commit or attempt to commit a felony, theft or assault
When you read the word “habitation,” think residence, a place where someone lives, and not a commercial building.
Degrees of Burglary and Possible Punishments in Texas
The severity of the burglary charge depends on the type of building involved:
- The building is not a habitation/residence: Burglary of a non-residential building is a state jail felony; penalties include 6 months to 2 years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
- The building is a place where controlled substances are stored: Burglary of a pharmacy, clinic, hospital, nursing facility or warehouse is a third-degree felony; penalties include 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- The building a habitation/residence: Burglary of a residence is a second-degree felony with penalties of 2 to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Burglary can also rise to a first-degree felony. This happens if any person participating in the burglary commits, or tries to commit, a felony other than theft. For example, if you or someone else entered a home intending to kill someone, that’s first-degree burglary, even if you don’t actually kill anyone. It’s the intent that matters. The punishment for first-degree burglary can be life in prison.
Burglary of a Vehicle in Texas
Texas has a separate crime called burglary of a vehicle. This is defined as breaking into and/or entering into a vehicle without the owner’s consent, with the intent to commit a theft or felony.
Burglary of a vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum jail sentence of 6 months. However, if your record includes previous convictions for burglary of vehicles,the crime could become a felony and you could face a longer sentence.
Get Help Fighting Burglary Charges in Texas
Being charged with burglary is serious, and it requires a serious attorney in your corner. At Lee & Wood, LP our criminal defense lawyers will work to find weaknesses in the state’s case and do everything we can to have the charges reduced or dropped.