Burglary: What Penalties Are You Looking At?

To be convicted of burglary in the state of Texas, the alleged crime must meet two very specific legal requirements. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant not only entered a habitation in an unlawful manner but did so with the intention of committing a crime. The available penalties for burglary can be quite severe.


It constitutes burglary when the two elements described in section 30.o2 of the Texas Penal Code are satisfied. The two elements of burglary are as follows:

  • The prosecution must show that the defendant illegally entered or remained in the building or habitation in question. This includes breaking into or entering property without permission or remaining on the property beyond the hours of operation or the timelines that have been established for visiting or utilizing the property. Hiding in a retail establishment to wait for the business to close in order to perpetrate a theft is one example of remaining on the premises in an unlawful manner.
  • The prosecution must also demonstrate the defendant’s state of mind in order to obtain a burglary conviction. The defendant must have entered or remained on the property for the express purpose of committing a theft, felony or assault.

Burglary Penalties

The penalty for being convicted of burglary will depend on the circumstances of the alleged crime and the previous criminal record of the defendant. A burglary offense involving a building that does not meet the legal definition of a habitation is punishable by a state jail felony.

Any burglary conviction involving a habitation, including home invasions, is a 2nd degree felony. It constitutes a 1st degree felony when it can be shown that the defendant entered the habitation for the purpose of committing any felony crime other than felony theft. It is not necessary for the defendant to have actually committed the felony in question. Proving the intent of the defendant is sufficient grounds for conviction.

Burglary of a Vehicle

Burglary of a vehicle that is not used for habitation is punishable by a Class A misdemeanor. If the defendant inserted any body part or instrument connected to the body into a vehicle for the purpose of committing a theft or felony, it constitutes illegal entry under the law. Using a coat hanger or other device to steal a purse, for instance, would qualify as illegal entry.

Burglary of any vehicle that is equipped for use as a habitation will be regarded as a habitation as described by the Texas penal code. The same elements and penalties shall apply under such circumstances. Enhanced penalties are available for repeat offenders and burglaries involving a rail car.

Criminal trespass is similar to burglary but does not require the element of intent to commit a crime. Entering or remaining on someone else’s property without permission is the only requirement for being charged with criminal trespassing.

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Law Office of James Alston. serves people who need legal assistance in their Criminal Defense Cases in Texas.

Houston Criminal Lawyer James Alston represents clients in the Houston area, including Pasadena, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Channelview, Conroe, Galveston, Angleton, Richmond, Rosenberg, Beaumont, Galveston County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Harris County and Jefferson County in Texas.