Is burglary a felony in Texas? You probably know that burglary is a serious offense that has something to do with breaking and entering and theft, but you might not know just how serious an offense burglary is — or that the punishment for certain types of burglary in Texas just got more extreme. 

Mark Thiessen and the theft defense lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here to walk you through the laws for burglary in Texas, the 2024 changes to those laws, what punishments you can expect for a burglary conviction, and the difference between burglary, robbery, and other theft crimes. 

If you or a loved one has been accused of burglary in Texas call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 to begin defending your freedom. 

What is the law for burglary in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code §30.02, a person commits a burglary offense if they, without the consent of the owner:

  • Enter a habitation, or a building not then open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault; or
  • remain concealed, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault, in a building or habitation; or
  • enter a building or habitation and commit or attempt to commit a felony, theft, or assault.

The essential elements of a burglary charge in Texas are: 

  1. Unauthorized entry
  2. Intent to commit felony, theft, or assault 

Seems pretty simple, right? What’s not so simple is that the severity of the offense differs based on the type of building or structure being unlawfully entered. Burglary of a habitation in Texas is a much more serious crime than burglary of a motor vehicle or commercial building, for example. 

New Texas burglary laws in 2024

Changes to the laws for burglary in Texas that went into effect on 2/06/2024 are summarized below: 

  • Burglary of a habitation in Texas is now a first-degree felony if you enter the habitation with the intent to commit a felony other than felony theft. 
  • Burglary of a building in Texas is now a third-degree felony if the crime is committed with the intent of stealing a controlled substance from a building in which it is known controlled substances are stored. 
  • Burglary of a motor vehicle in Texas is now a third-degree felony if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle from which you are trying to steal a controlled substance OR the offense is committed in an attempt to smuggle persons. 

Punishments for burglary in Texas are already incredibly steep, but these amendments to penalties and sentencing make them even more severe. Texas courts will not go easy on you, will not accept misunderstandings, and will not be motivated to listen to your side of the story. This is why it is so essential to hire a trial lawyer who can listen to your story, apply their expertise, and bring it in front of a court of law. 

Is burglary a felony in Texas?

Is burglary a felony or misdemeanor offense? Burglary of a motor vehicle is often charged as a Class A misdemeanor, but otherwise, all burglary offenses are felony offenses. While determining the level of felony offense is a bit more complicated, this question at least has an easy answer.

With the amendments to the Texas burglary laws going into effect, there are now more situations in which burglary offenses can be enhanced into third-, second-, or even first-degree felonies. A summary of common burglary offenses and the way they are charged is below:

  • Burglary of a motor vehicle (not intending to steal a controlled substance) is punishable as a class A misdemeanor. 
  • Burglary of a building that is not a habitation is punishable as a state jail felony. 
  • Burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit theft is punishable as a second-degree felony, first-degree felony is the intention is to commit a felony other than theft. 

Remember that the previous amendments to the burglary laws apply and that there are a slew of reasons why a Texas court would want to upgrade your misdemeanor charge to a felony, or your felony charge to an aggravated felony. This is why hiring a talented and trusted attorney is not just an option, it is mandatory if you want to hold on to your freedom. 

What is the punishment for burglary in Texas?

We know that the punishment for burglary in Texas is steep, but what kind of jail time are we actually talking about? What are common sentences for burglary? The punishments for various charges that are commonly handed out for burglary are listed below:

OffenseChargeFineJail time
Burglary of a motor vehicleClass A misdemeanor$4,000Up to 1 year
Burglary of a non-habitation buildingState jail felony$10,000180 days – 2 years
Burglary of a non-habitation building, controlled substanceThird-degree felony$10,0002 – 10 years in prison
Burglary of a habitationSecond-degree felony$10,0002 – 20 years in prison
Burglary of a habitation, non-theft felonyFirst-degree felony$10,000Up to life in prison

Other than the many reasons for burglary charges to be aggravated, courts will also take into account criminal history in sentencing. This isn’t to say that a burglary of habitation first offense will come with significantly lighter punishments than an offense with priors, but the priors will almost always hurt you. 

What is the difference between burglary and robbery?

While burglary, robbery, and theft are all serious theft crimes that are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation, there are important differences between burglary vs robbery that you should be aware of. 

We’ve already spent some time discussing the key elements of a burglary charge, but what differentiates robbery from burglary is that robbery is an offense against the person as much as it is an offense against property. According to Texas Penal Code § 29.02, a person commits a robbery offense if they:

  • During the commission of a theft crime, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another
  • During the commission of a theft crime, intentionally or knowingly threaten or place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death

Aggravated robbery in Texas occurs when a person commits robbery and either:

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

Robbery and aggravated robbery are essentially the use of violence while committing a theft offense, and punishments are just as steep as they are for burglary, if not even steeper. An armed robbery sentence in Texas is a first- or second-degree felony.

Accused of felony burglary? Call the burglary lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm.

So, is burglary a felony? Burglary is almost always a felony in Texas (with the exception being some charges for burglary of a motor vehicle), carrying consequences that can escalate up to life in prison. Whether you are accused of breaking into a motor vehicle or a habitation and are facing a Class A misdemeanor or a first-degree felony, what these charges have in common is that they necessitate an aggressive and talented theft defense lawyer in your corner. 

Burglary charges are some of the most serious that exist within Texas courts, where the accused are prosecuted quickly and vigorously. Don’t make the mistake of hiring just any lawyer. You need an attorney who takes cases to court and wins them, like Mark Thiessen. 

Call Mark and the burglary attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation. Your future is worth the fight. 

More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm: 

Thiessen Law Firm

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.