You have heard of thieves breaking into people’s homes while they are away on vacation. You have seen the news reports about convenient store robberies. You know that burglary happens – you just never thought you would be accused of it. Unfortunately, people are falsely accused of theft crimes on a daily basis. Sometimes it is because of a witness’s false statement or circumstantial evidence that somehow points to you. These charges can also arise because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Whatever led you to be charged with burglary, a Houston burglary attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett is here to help. We understanding how devastating this situation can be for you and your family, which is why we offer compassionate yet aggressive representation.
Call us today at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.
Understanding Burglary in Texas
Under Section 30.01 of the Texas Penal Code, you can be found guilty of burglary if you, without the consent of the owner:
- 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 within a habitation or building with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault,
- Enter a habitation or building and commit or attempt to a commit a felony, theft, or assault.
You may initially think of burglary as breaking and entering. However, this is a poor description of the offense. You do not have to smash a window or pick a lock. Under Texas law, to enter means to intrude with any part of your body or any physical object connected with your body. It could be as simple as opening an unlocked door without permission. Nowhere is destroying property or circumventing locks mentioned in the law, even if it is common to hear about in regard to burglaries.
You might also think that burglary is when you enter a house or business to steal something. It is true that theft within a home or other type of building is burglary. However, it is only one of the numerous crimes that can lead to this charge. If you intended, tried, or completed any type of felony within another person’s apartment, house, or building, then you can be convicted of burglary.
The Difference Between a Habitation and Other Building
Under Section 30.01, a habitation is a structure or vehicle that is adapted for people to stay in overnight and includes:
- Each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle, and
- Each structure belonging to or connected with the structure or vehicle.
It is easier to think about it this way: A habitation is a building, vehicle, or some other structure that a person does live in or could. It could be an apartment, townhouse, free-standing home, hotel room, dormitory, or recreational vehicle. If a building is not made for people to live in, then it is not a habitation and would be another building for the purposes of burglary. However, it must be an enclosed structure intended for work, decoration, or use to be considered a building at all.
Penalties for a Burglary Conviction
The lowest level burglary charge is reserved for those accused of burglarizing a building like a store or a warehouse that is not a habitation. This crime would be a state jail felony, punishable by a minimum of 180 days up to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
If you are charged with burglary within someone’s home, which could be an apartment or house, then you will be charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
If you are accused of burglary in a home in which you intended, tried, or committed a felony other than felony theft, such as rape or assault, you will face a first-degree felony. Upon conviction, you will be sent to prison for five to 99 years or life and fined up to $10,000.
There is no misdemeanor burglary offense. If you are accused of burglary, you face serious consequences, which is why it is important to call a criminal defense lawyer right away.
The consequences of a criminal conviction reach far and wide. You will feel the effects of a burglary conviction for years down the road, no matter how hard you work to turn your life around. With a serious felony on your record, you will have to fight against discrimination to rent a home, obtain a job, and be approved for loans. It can also make it difficult to go to school and get financial aid.
If you are facing a burglary conviction, you should not be so short-sighted to think that you can handle a fine and some jail time. This conviction can set you back years in your education and career and make it difficult to build a positive reputation in your community in the future.
Defending Against Burglary Charges
Once you have been charged with burglary, you should contact an experienced Houston burglary attorney to learn more about your legal defense options. A common defense is that there has been a mistake and that you were not the person who burglarized the home or building in question. Your attorney may be able to prove you have an alibi or demonstrate to the court that the prosecution’s evidence is circumstantial and could point to a number of perpetrators.
Another defense to burglary is that you had permission to be where you were. The prosecution cannot prove you entered or remained a home or building where you were not supposed to be if there is evidence that the owner or occupier let you.
Additionally, there may not be evidence of your intent to commit a crime. If you were simply in a place where you were not supposed to be, that is not enough to prove you intended to commit a crime. The prosecution must provide evidence that you intended to steal something, assault someone, or commit another felony under Texas law, which can be very hard to do.
Let a Houston Burglary Attorney Help
You never have to face criminal charges alone. The Constitution gives you the right to an attorney at all times – during police questioning, while preparing for trial, and to represent you at trial. At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we are here to give you tenacious representation as well as guide you through the difficult criminal justice system. We will analyze your case and explain your best options for building a strong defense.