Facing Burglary Charges? Consult An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Timing is everything when you're facing burglary charges. Every moment that passes without proper legal representation decreases the likelihood of a favorable outcome. The criminal defense lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are seasoned professionals who can support you through the intricacies of the criminal justice system. Let us help you build a robust defense strategy tailored to your unique circumstances, especially given the severe nature of these charges. Call us immediately at (512) 991-0576 or schedule an initial consultation online.
Navigating the legal system can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you're facing a theft charge like burglary in Texas. It's critical to understand the ins and outs of the laws you're up against. With that in mind, here’s more on Texas Penal Code Section 30.02, which deals with burglary offenses.
What Constitutes A Burglary Offense In Texas
According to Section 30.02 of the Texas Penal Code, burglary is committed when someone unlawfully enters or remains in a building or habitation with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault. The owner's effective consent is a critical factor here. If you don't have permission to be there, and you enter with the intent to commit one of these offenses, you're setting yourself up for a burglary charge.
The Different Ways To Commit Burglary
The law identifies three specific ways a burglary can be committed:
- Entering a building or habitation with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.
- Concealing oneself in a building or habitation with the same intent.
- Entering a building or habitation and then actually attempting or committing a felony, theft, or assault.
Definition Of “Enter”
The statute elaborates that “enter” means to intrude any part of the body or any object connected with the body into the building or habitation. In simpler terms, you don't have to walk through a door; sticking your hand or an object through an opening counts.
Penalties For Burglary In Texas: What You Could Face
State Jail Felony
A standard burglary charge is considered a state jail felony if it occurs in a building other than a habitation. The penalties for state jail felonies can range from 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and a fine of no more than $10,000.
Felony Of The Second Degree
If the burglary is committed in a habitation, then it escalates to a second-degree felony. This scenario is more serious and can result in imprisonment for 2 to 20 years, along with a fine of no more than $10,000.
Felony Of The Third Degree
The law takes a particularly harsh stance if the burglary occurs in a commercial building where controlled substances are commonly stored, like a pharmacy or hospital. If you're caught in such a situation with the intent to steal controlled substances, you could be facing a felony of the third degree. That could mean a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.
Felony Of The First Degree
If you enter someone's home with the intention to commit a felony other than theft, or if you actually attempt or commit such a felony, the charge jumps to a felony of the first degree. This could lead to imprisonment for 5 to 99 years or life, and a fine of no more than $10,000.
Defenses Against Burglary Charges In Texas: Penal Code Section 30.02
The Element Of Intent
One of the most critical elements in a burglary charge according to Section 30.02 is the “intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault.” If you can establish that you did not possess this intent when you entered or remained in the building or habitation, you could potentially have the charges against you dropped or reduced.
Absence Of Criminal Intent
A common defense is to prove the absence of criminal intent at the time of entry. If you entered a building but can prove that you did not intend to commit a crime, this could serve as a viable defense.
Another line of defense could involve demonstrating that while you might have intended to commit a misdemeanor, there was no intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault, which are the conditions specified for a burglary charge.
Consent Of The Owner
Section 30.02 explicitly states that a burglary occurs “without the effective consent of the owner.” Therefore, if you can prove that you had the owner's effective consent to enter the building or habitation, this could serve as a defense.
In some cases, the issue of 'implied consent' may arise. If you can argue successfully that your presence was not contrary to the owner’s wishes, or if there was a reasonable assumption that you were allowed to enter, this may weaken the prosecution's case.
Nature Of The Building Or Habitation
The statute specifies that burglary occurs in a building “not then open to the public” or a habitation. One possible defense could be to demonstrate that the building was open to the public at the time of entry.
Ambiguity Of 'Public Access'
If it can be proven that the building was actually open to the public when the alleged burglary took place, this could undermine the burglary charge.
Inadequate Proof Of Entry
According to the statute, “enter” means to intrude any part of the body or any object connected with the body into the building or habitation. If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you entered the building or habitation in this manner, the burglary charge could be contested.
Questions Of 'Entry'
Legal defense can question the nature and extent of the 'entry' to challenge the prosecution’s claim. For instance, was the alleged 'entry' sufficient to meet the definition in the statute?
Frequently Asked Questions About Texas Penal Code Section 30.02 On Burglary
What Does “Intent To Commit” Mean?
“Intent to commit” means that when you entered or remained in the building or habitation, you had the specific intention to carry out a felony, theft, or assault. Merely entering a building without the owner's consent is not sufficient for a burglary charge; there must be proof of criminal intent.
Does “Entry” Only Mean Going Through A Door?
No, “entry” in the context of this statute means intruding any part of the body or any object connected with the body into the building or habitation. This means that sticking your hand through a window or inserting a tool into a space can constitute “entry.”
What Are The Penalties For Burglary?
The penalties range based on several factors. A standard burglary charge in a building other than a habitation is a state jail felony. If the burglary occurs in a habitation, it becomes a second-degree felony. Burglaries involving controlled substances in specific commercial buildings can be third-degree felonies. Lastly, if you enter a habitation intending to commit a felony other than theft or actually attempt or commit such a felony, it's a first-degree felony.
Can I Be Charged If I Had The Owner's Consent To Enter?
If you had the owner's effective consent to enter, this could serve as a defense against burglary charges. The keyword here is “effective” consent, which means that the owner willingly allowed you to enter without coercion or deceit.
What If The Building Was Open To The Public?
If a building is open to the public at the time you enter, you cannot be charged with burglary for entering that building, unless you then conceal yourself with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.
Is There A Way To Defend Myself Against A Burglary Charge?
Yes, there are several defenses you can employ based on this statute, such as proving lack of criminal intent, showing you had the owner's effective consent, or demonstrating that the building was open to the public. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial for determining the strongest defense strategy for your specific case.
Fight To Avoid A Criminal Conviction With The Help Of A Texas Burglary Attorney
Always consult with a qualified criminal defense lawyer for personalized guidance and representation if you are charged with a burglary offense. An experienced criminal defense attorney can scrutinize the prosecution's case for weaknesses, question the reliability of evidence, and work to either get the charges dropped or negotiate a more favorable outcome.
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we understand the overwhelming stress and uncertainty that comes with serious criminal charges such as burglary or aggravated robbery. A burglary conviction can have a lifelong impact on your future. Don't take on this type of criminal charge alone. Let a dedicated burglary lawyer at our firm support you through the complex legal landscape. To protect your rights and secure the most favorable outcome, contact us today at (512) 991-0576 or reach out to our burglary attorneys online.