Is robbery the same as burglary in Texas? You may have heard the terms robbery and burglary being used interchangeably in movies, television, and on the news, but the two are distinct crimes with equally severe consequences in Texas.

The criminal defense attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm are here to explain the distinctions between burglary vs. robbery in Texas, give some examples of both crimes and discuss possible penalties for those convicted. 

If you or a loved one has been accused of burglary or robbery in the Lone Star State, you’re going to need the best criminal defense attorney Houston has to offer if you plan on maintaining your freedom. 

Mark Thiessen and the criminal lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm have built a reputation for making miracles happen in the courtroom. They take complex, high-stakes cases to court and win for their clients. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 to schedule a consultation and begin protecting your future. 

Burglary vs robbery vs theft in Texas

The crime of theft is at the center of the definitions for both robbery and burglary in Texas. Under Texas Penal Code § 31.03, a person commits a theft offense when they “unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” Appropriation of property is illegal under a number of conditions, the most important of which include:

  • It is without the owner’s consent.
  • The property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property with the knowledge that it is stolen.

In short, “theft” in Texas is taking something without the owner’s consent, or taking an item you already know to be stolen, essentially. 

What is robbery in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code § 29.02, a person commits a robbery offense if they, in the course of committing theft:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another
  • Intentionally or knowingly threaten or place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death

Aggravated robbery occurs when a person commits robbery and:

  • Causes serious bodily injury to another
  • Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon
  • Causes bodily injury or threatens to cause bodily injury to an elderly or disabled person

So, robbery in Texas is effectively the use of physical violence or threats during a theft offense. It is important to note that a person does not need to sustain an injury at all for the actor to be charged with a robbery offense. Robbery, unlike burglary, does not have anything to do with the unlawful entering of a building. 

What is burglary in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code § 30.02, a person commits a burglary offense if they:

  • Enter a habitation or a building that is not open to the public with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault
  • Remain concealed in a habitation or building with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault
  • Enter a building or habitation and commit or attempt to commit a felony, theft, or assault

Burglary in Texas is essentially entering into a building or habitation that is not your own, with the intent to commit a crime (theft or otherwise.) You can walk in through an open door and that building can be empty and you can still be charged with a Texas robbery charge. 

What is the difference between robbing and burglary? 

As you can see, while robbery involves the threat of physical violence for the commission of a theft crime, burglary involves the unlawful entry of a building during the commission or for the purpose of a commission of a theft crime. 

Remember it this way: robbery involves people and burglary involves buildings. You can rob someone on the street in broad daylight without ever entering a building or habitation, and you can burgle a home without the involvement of another person, but the inverse is not true. 

What is an example of robbery? An example of burglary?

For our robbery example, let’s imagine a person walking alone at night in a dimly lit alley. Suddenly, another person approaches them, brandishes a weapon, and demands their wallet and phone. Fearing for their safety, the victim complies, handing over their belongings. In this scenario, although no physical harm ever came to the victim, a robbery has occurred.

What is an example of burglary? Imagine that this same person breaks into an empty residential home. They don’t break a window and don’t harm anyone in the process. Once they are inside they search the entire premises for valuables, find nothing, and leave. In this scenario, although nothing has been stolen, a burglary has occurred.

What are the punishments for burglary vs robbery in Texas?

Even if you aren’t convicted, being charged with serious felony crimes can affect your family, your reputation, and even your ability to get work.* The punishments for burglary and robbery in Texas are extreme but can vary significantly depending on the specifics of your case, namely whether any aggravating factors are present to enhance the charge. 

CrimeChargeMaximum fineJail time
Burglary of a non-habitationState jail felony$10,000Up to 2 years
Burglary of a habitationSecond-degree felony$10,0002 – 20 years in prison
Non-theft burglary of a habitationFirst-degree felony$10,0005 years – life in prison
RobberySecond-degree felony$10,0002 – 20 years in prison
Aggravated robberyFirst-degree felony$10,0005 years – life in prison

Punishments for burglary of habitation without theft or the attempt of theft can actually be more severe than those for theft because the court will assume that the actor had an assault offense in mind. 

What’s more, it isn’t uncommon for defendants in Texas courts to face a robbery and a burglary charge at the same time. If 20 years in prison didn’t sound harsh enough, facing charges for burglary of a habitation and robbery can mean up to 40 years in prison — and that’s with no aggravating factors. 

*Continue reading: What shows up on a background check in Texas?

Whether you’re facing charges for burglary vs. robbery, Thiessen Law Firm is here to help.

The differences between burglary vs. robbery are many, but their biggest similarity is that they both carry incredibly steep penalties that can put you away for the rest of your life. While theft crimes in Texas scale penalties based on the value of the stolen goods, both burglary and robbery can still have extreme penalties even if very little (or nothing) was stolen. 

Whether you’re facing charges for petty theft in Texas or need an attorney to fight for your rights in an aggravated robbery trial, the theft defense attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm are here to make sure your rights are protected from overzealous prosecution. 

Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation and begin building your defense. 

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.