Burglary Defense in Austin | Austin Burglary Lawyer By Jason Trumpler, P.C. on May 17, 2020

Austin Burglary Attorney

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BURGLARY

Burglary is one of the most commonly committed Property Crimes there is. Title 7, Chapter 30 of the Texas Penal Code defines Burglary in Texas. There are several significant subtypes of Burglary in Texas, namely: "Burglary of a Habitation," "Burglary of a Building," "Burglary of a Coin-Operated or Coin Collection Machine," and "Burglary of a Vehicle."

BURGLARY OF A HABITATION

To commit the offense of Burglary of a Habitation, a person must enter "a habitation" without the "effective consent" of the owner:

  1. With the intent to commit a felony, theft or an assault; or,
  2. Remain concealed, with the intent to commit a "felony, theft, or an assault;" or,
  3. Enter a habitation and commit or attempt to commit a "felony, theft, or an assault."

Habitation, as defined by the statute, means a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons, and includes:

  • (A) each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and,
  • (B) each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.

Appellate courts have held that appurtenant to can include unattached garages.

Enter as defined by the statute, means to intrude:

  1. Any part of the body; or,
  2. Any physical object connected with the "body."

Burglary of a Habitation is generally a 2nd-Degree Felony. The range of punishment is:

  • 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division; and,
  • Fine Up to $10,000.

It can be filed as a 1st-Degree Felony if any party to the Burglary entered the habitation with the intent to commit a felony other than felony theft or committed or attempted to commit a felony other than felony theft. The range of punishment for a 1st-Degree Felon is:

  • Five years to 99 years, or life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division, and,
  • Fine Up to $10,000.

BURGLARY OF A BUILDING

The Texas Penal Code defines Burglary of a Building as entering a building (or any portion of a building) not then open to the public:

  • With the intent to commit a "felony, theft, or an assault;" or,
  • Remaining concealed in a building, with the intent to commit a "felony, theft, or an assault;" or,
  • Entering a building and committing or attempting to commit a "felony, theft, or an assault."

Burglary of a Building is a State Jail Felony. The range of punishment for a State Jail Felony is:

  • Not More than Two years or Less than 180 Days in the State Jail; and,
  • Fine Up to $10,000.

BURGLARY OF A COIN-OPERATED OR COIN COLLECTION MACHINE

A person commits the offense of Burglary of a Coin-operated or Coin Collection Machine if:

  • Without the "effective consent" of the owner;
  • He or she "breaks or enters" into any:
    1. coin-operated machine; or,
    2. other coin-operated or coin collection receptacle;
    3. contrivance;
    4. apparatus; or
    5. equipment used to provide lawful amusement, sales of goods, services;
    6. or other valuable things; or,
    7. telecommunications with the intent to obtain property or services.

In layman's terms, the law prohibits messing with video games, payphones, vending machines, coin-operated laundry machines, and the like to get coins or free use.

"Entry," as defined by this statute, is any kind of entry except one made with the "effective consent" of the owner.

Burglary of a Coin-Operated or Coin Collection Machine is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor. The range of punishment for a Class A Misdemeanor is:

  • Up to One Year in the County Jail; and,
  • "Fine" Up to $4,000.

BURGLARY OF A VEHICLE

A person commits the offense of Burglary of a Vehicle if, without the "effective consent" of the owner he or she:

  1. "Breaks into or Enters" a "vehicle" or any part of a "vehicle."
  2. With intent to commit any "felony or theft."

Enter as defined by statute, in this case, means to intrude:

  1. Any part of the body; or,
  2. Any physical object connected with the "body."

Also of note, is that a container or trailer carried on a rail car is part of the rail car for purposes of this statute.

Burglary of a Vehicle is also punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor. Importantly, if a person has a prior conviction for Burglary of a Vehicle, he or she potentially faces a minimum term of confinement of Six Months. It is a State Jail Felony if a person has two or more prior convictions for Burglary of a Vehicle, or the vehicle or part of the "vehicle" broken into or entered was a "rail car."

For purposes of this statute, if the court places you on deferred adjudication community supervision, it counts as a conviction whether the court imposes ultimately imposes a finding of guilt or not.

Concerning the "rail car" portion of the statute, it is a defense if you were an employee of the railroad at the time of the offense.

CRIMINAL TRESPASS

Since the same Texas Penal Code Title and Chapter that governs Burglary also outlines Criminal Trespass, I will discuss it here as well. A person commits the offense of Criminal Trespass if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including:

  • residential land;
  • agricultural land;
  • a recreational vehicle park;
  • a building; or an aircraft or other vehicle
    • without the "effective consent" of the owner and the person:
      • (1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or
      • (2) received notice to depart but failed to do so.

Entry, as defined by this statute, means the intrusion of the entire "body."

Notice, as defined by this statute, means:

  • (A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;
  • (B) fencing or other enclosure "obviously designed" to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;
  • (C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden;
  • (D) the placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property provided that the "marks" are identifiable as specified by the statute;
  • (E) the visible presence on the property of a crop grown for human consumption that is under cultivation, in the process of being harvested, or marketable if "harvested" at the time of entry.

Criminal trespass is prosecuted as a Class A Misdemeanor if the "trespass" occurs at:

  1. A habitation; or,
  2. A shelter center;
  3. On a superfund site; or,
  4. In a critical infrastructure.

In most other circumstances, the State prosecutes Criminal Trespass as a Class B Misdemeanor. The exceptions when the State will prosecute Criminal Trespass as a Class C Misdemeanor are when a person trespasses

  1. On agricultural land and within 100 feet of the boundary of the "land;" or,
  2. On residential "land" and within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area.

The range of punishment for a Class B Misdemeanor is:

  • Up to 180 Days in the County Jail;
  • Up to $2,000 Fine.

A Class C Misdemeanor is punishable by "fine only."

We have offices in Austin, Texas and Round Rock, Texas.

Austin Office (Principle Office)
The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler

902 E. 5th Street
Ste 108
Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 457-5200
Fax: (512) 457-5225
www.trumplerlaw.com
E-mail: jason.trumpler@trumplerlaw.com

Round Rock Office
1000 Heritage Center Cir
Round Rock, TX 78664

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Jason Trumpler

The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler

Jason Trumpler has handled thousands of criminal cases over nearly 20 years. He is a current or past member of several national, state, and local legal associations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Austin Bar Association
  • Williamson County Bar Association
  • National College for DUI Defense®
  • Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers' Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
  • DUI Defense Lawyers Association

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