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Burglary in Austin, Texas

Burglary, also known as breaking and entering, is a serious criminal charge in Texas that may result in severe penalties upon conviction, including incarceration and heavy fines.

The Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30, defines burglary and enumerates the penalties for a burglary conviction in Texas. Depending on the circumstances, burglary may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

A burglary charge does not necessarily require an actual theft because under Texas law. Instead, a person commits burglary merely by entering a building, habitation, or vehicle without the owner's consent and with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.

Austin, Texas Attorney for Burglary

If you are accused of burglary in Austin or Travis County, Texas, then you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. A skilled attorney may be able to find problems with the prosecution's case or the arrest itself. The attorney may be able file motions to suppress or exclude evidence which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.

Many of the law enforcement agencies in Travis County, including the Austin Police Department, have specialized units that investigate burglary charges. You also need a criminal defense attorney training in defending these serious cases. 

If you were arrested for burglary in Austin, Pflugerville, Lakeway, or the surrounding areas, The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to defend you. Kevin Bennett is a dedicated criminal defense lawyer in Travis County who can explain the charges you face and then work hard to fight the charges.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett may be able to help you avoid a criminal trial for burglary and negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges. Kevin Bennett will take a case to trial if necessary and will fight against a conviction. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to schedule your free initial consultation.


Information Center for Burglary in Austin, Texas


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Definition of Burglary under the Texas Penal Code

Burglary differs from robbery in that burglary occurs when the victim is not present or aware of a theft during the commission of the theft or attempted theft.

Texas Statutes, Title 7, Chapter 30.02 defines burglary as a criminal offense that occurs if "a person, without the effective consent of the owner:

  • Enters a habitation, or a building (or any portion of a building) not then open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault; or
  • Remains concealed, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault, in a building or habitation; or
  • Enters a building or habitation and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft, or an assault."

Under the Texas burglary statute, the definition of "enter" is to intrude any part of the body or any physical object connected with the body.

The terms "consent" and "intent" are also defined in the statute. Either an absence of consent or the presence of intent must be proven by the prosecution in order to achieve a guilty verdict in a burglary trial.


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Burglary of a Building

Texas law distinguishes between places where people live or sleep (habitation) and places where they do not (building). Almost all habitations are buildings, but not all buildings are habitations. For example, a home usually is a habitation, while a store or office building usually is not.

Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.01 defines "building" as "any enclosed structure intended for use or occupation as a habitation or for some purpose of trade, manufacture, ornament, or use."

Burglary of a building is a "state jail felony if committed in a building other than a habitation" (Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.02(c)(1)). A state jail felony is the lowest level of felony in Texas, but a conviction imposes between 180 days and two years in jail with a maximum fine of up to $10,000.

 


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Burglary of a Habitation

A habitation is a dwelling, or a place (such as a home) where a person or persons live and sleep. Under Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.01, "habitation" is defined to mean "a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons, and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle."

Burglary of a habitation is a more serious crime than burglary of a building or vehicle without accommodations. A conviction of burglary of a habitation is a second-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Burglary of a habitation becomes a first-degree felony if any of the burglars entered the habitation with intent to commit a felony other than felony theft or committed or attempted to commit a felony other than felony theft. A conviction for a first-degree felony may result in a prison sentence of five to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Convicted felons also face many obstacles after being released from prison, including the loss of voting rights and the legal right to own a firearm, as well as limited work and educational opportunities.


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Burglary of a Vehicle

Under Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.01, the term "vehicle" is defined to include "any device in, on, or by which any person or property is or may be propelled, moved, or drawn in the normal course of commerce or transportation, except such devices as are classified as habitation." A motor home or houseboat may be classified as a habitation under this law, but a passenger car would usually be classified as a vehicle.

Chapter 30.04 states that a person commits burglary of a vehicle "if, without the effective consent of the owner, he breaks into or enters a vehicle or any part of a vehicle with intent to commit any felony or theft."

An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by six months to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. An offense under this section is elevated to a state jail felony if the defendant has two prior burglary convictions or if the vehicle or part of the vehicle broken into or entered is a rail car. In addition, past convictions that were granted deferred adjudication count in determining misdemeanor or felony charges.


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Burglary of Coin-Operated Machines

The Texas Penal Code also specifically addresses coin-operated and coin collection machines in Title 7, Chapter 30.03: 

"A person commits burglary if, without the effective consent of the owner, he breaks or enters into any coin-operated machine, coin collection machine, or other coin-operated or coin collection receptacle, contrivance, apparatus, or equipment used for the purpose of providing lawful amusement, sales of goods, services, or other valuable things, or telecommunications with intent to obtain property or services."

"Entry" includes every kind of entry except one made with the effective consent of the owner.

An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by six months to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.


Additional Resources

Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30 — Read the state laws related to burglary and offenses against property as contained in the Texas Statutes.

Burglary Unit of the Austin Police Department — Visit the website of the City of Austin's Police Department (APD) to find more information about their Burglary Unit. The Burglary Unit works with the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, APD Pawn Unit, and the APD District Representative Units, as well as other local agencies to identify suspects who commit crimes in adjoining jurisdictions.

The APD Burglary Unit is the division that investigates crimes against property. Law enforcement officers in the Burglary Unit investigate residential, non-residential, and commercial burglaries inside the jurisdiction of the City of Austin in Travis County. The police department recently centralized the unit in an effort to increase the number of successful prosecutions of alleged offenders charged with committing burglaries. The APD Burglary Unit includes one crime analyst, one administrative specialist, 14 detectives and two sergeants. </p>

Burglary Explained by the Travis County Sheriff's Office — Visit the website of the Travis County Sheriff's Office to find information given to victims after a burglary. The information sheet defines the term burglary as occurring "when the suspect enters a habitation or building without the effective consent of the owner with the intention of committing a felony, theft or assault. Burglary differs from robbery in that robbery involves intentional threat or physical harm caused to the victim by the suspect." The information sheet also defines residential burglary and commercial burglary. Also find tips for preventing a break-in.


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Find an Attorney for Burglary Charges in Austin, Texas

If you were arrested for burglary in Austin, Texas, or Travis County, Texas, you should consider consulting with an experienced local criminal defense attorney who can explain the charges you face and help you determine the proper course of action to address the charges.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett represents clients charged with property crimes in Austin, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway, and the surrounding areas of Travis County. Kevin Bennett is a knowledgeable Austin lawyer who will thoroughly review the facts surrounding your case, and use his knowledge of Texas law and criminal legal procedure to weaken the prosecution’s case against you. He may be able to introduce evidence on your behalf that results in a reduction or dismissal of charges, but he is prepared to go to trial if necessary

Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 if you have been arrested for burglary. Your initial consultation is free, and it will begin the process of defending your freedom.