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If you have been charged with burglary in Houston, Texas, contact attorney Mark Thiessen at 713.864.9000 or request a free case evaluation. We serve Houston and the surrounding areas and are available 24/7 to fight for you.

Did you know that you can be charged with burglary even if no theft has been committed? Most people think of burglary as breaking and entering to commit theft, but there are many more ways that a person can be charged with burglary, and the consequences may be steeper than you could ever imagine. 

Mark Thiessen and the theft defense attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm can make sure that your rights are protected in a court of law. They have made a name for fighting tooth and nail for their clients in the courtroom, telling their clients’ stories, and making judges and juries rethink complex situations. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 to protect your freedom and begin building your defense.

Mark Thiessen is a criminal defense all-star. If he can’t get you a win, nobody can.

I’ve worked with Mark and his team on two very different cases, and both times I’ve been blown away by the level of honesty, strategy, and respect that Thiessen Law Firm brings to the table…

Posted by Adam
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What is the burglary law in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code § 30.02, a person is guilty of a burglary offense if they:

  • Enter a habitation or building without the consent of the owner with the intention to commit a felony, theft, or assault
  • Remain in a habitation or building without the consent of the owner with the intention to commit a felony, theft, or assault
  • Enter a habitation or building without the consent of the owner and commit a felony, theft, or assault

Pretty straightforward. The two important elements of the burglary laws are non-consensual entry and the intention to commit or commission of either another felony crime, a theft crime, or an assault crime. 

For you to be charged with burglary the two things that the court will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt are that you were in the building, habitation, or vehicle unlawfully and that you either committed or had intent to commit one of the above listed crimes. If they cannot prove the latter then the charge may be downgraded to criminal trespassing.

2024 updates to the burglary laws 

Although the burglary laws in Texas are already severe, as of 2/06/2024 punishments for burglary crimes have become even more harsh. A short summary of the 2/06/2024 amendments to Texas Penal Code § 30 are as follows:

  • If you commit a burglary of a motor vehicle from a commercial motor vehicle with the intention of stealing a controlled substance or commit a burglary of a motor vehicle for the purpose of smuggling persons it is now a third-degree felony. 
  • If you commit a burglary of a commercial building with the intent of stealing a controlled substance from the building it is now a second-degree felony.
  • If you commit burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit a felony other than felony theft it is now a first-degree felony in Texas.

These updates are mainly targeted at two things: burglary of pharmacies and commercial vehicles for theft of controlled substances, and burglary of habitations for non-theft felonies (mostly assault crimes). If you are not unlawfully present inside a pharmacy or commercial vehicle transporting drugs or inside a habitation for purposes other than theft, the laws have essentially stayed the same, although the penalties for all of the non-amended forms of burglary are still incredibly steep. 

Which is the most serious type of burglary?

Although all types of burglary charges are serious, there is a hierarchy in how they are charged. Burglary charges are laid out from least to most serious below:

  1. Criminal trespassing, while not technically a burglary charge, is a less serious charge that burglary charges can sometimes be reduced to. 
  2. Burglary of a motor vehicle is the least serious type of burglary charge, although it can be escalated if you break into a commercial vehicle for drugs or to smuggle persons. 
  3. Burglary of a building, while a very serious charge, often comes with less severe consequences than burglary of a home.
  4. Burglary of a habitation is the most serious type of burglary charge. It is always a felony and depending on the circumstances can put you away for life. 

Keep in mind that there are myriad ways in which these charges can be upgraded based on the circumstances of your arrest. There are ways in which any type of burglary charge can be upgraded or aggravated to become as serious or more serious than the others. 

Is burglary a felony in Texas?

Is burglary a felony in Texas? Like most questions about criminal law, the answer is: it depends. Although, this one has a pretty quick explanation. 

Almost all burglary cases are felonies, with the sole exception of burglary of a motor vehicle (without the intention of theft of controlled substances or smuggling of persons), which is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. A more in-depth summary is below:

  • Non-smuggling, non-drug related burglary of a motor vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Burglary of a commercial or public building is a state jail felony.
  • Burglary of a habitation (for the purposes of theft) is a second-degree felony.
  • Burglary of a habitation for the purposes of a non-theft felony is a first-degree felony

Burglary is almost always a felony in Texas and is always a felony if you unlawfully enter or are present in a habitation or building. What kind of punishments can you expect if you are convicted of a burglary charge?

What is the punishment for burglary in Texas?

The punishment for burglary in Texas varies depending on the degree of the offense and the type of structure involved. A breakdown of the possible charges for common burglary offenses is 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

Keep in mind that in addition to the circumstances of your arrest, the court will also take into account your criminal record. While first-time burglary charges are no walk in the park, you’re sure to get more cooperation from the court if you don’t have any priors. 

What is the difference between burglary and theft in Texas?

Burglary is a type of theft crime in Texas. So while all burglaries are theft, not all thefts are burglaries. It’s a square and rectangle situation. The difference between burglary vs robbery is also pretty easy to explain. 

Robbery is another type of theft crime. Texas Penal Code § 29.02 states that a person commits a robbery offense if they: 

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

So in the same way that you can be charged with burglary before you even commit a theft crime, you can be charged with robbery without ever laying a hand on someone; all it takes is that they feel threatened or in danger of bodily injury. Aggravated robbery in Texas occurs when, during the course of a robbery, you either:

  • Cause serious bodily injury to another
  • Use or exhibit a deadly weapon
  • Cause bodily injury or threaten bodily injury to an elderly or disabled person

One thing that robbery and burglary do have in common is that punishments for robbery are similarly steep. The minimum sentence for aggravated robbery is five years in state prison, although it is very common for people convicted of aggravated robbery to serve much more time. 

Call the Houston burglary lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm for iron-tough defense

Courts are tough on those who have been charged with burglary in the Lone Star State. If you or a loved one is facing a burglary or robbery charge, you need a skilled Houston burglary lawyer in your corner before it’s too late. 

You’ll need to hire the best criminal defense lawyers in Houston if you want a chance at preserving your innocence and protecting your freedom. Mark Thiessen and the criminal defense attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm have made their name on making miracles happen for their clients in the courtroom. If you need an aggressive defender and compassionate advocate to make sure you get a fair shot, call Mark Thiessen. 

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

Call Thiessen Law Firm today at 713.864.9000 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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